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Vestacon V - A Quarterly Newsletter - June 2021

Vestacon’s 5th Newsletter includes our latest editions of our in-house produced White Paper and Industry Insight, how design-build services can identify, mitigate, and keep your project on schedule, the introduction of our new Vice President of Vestacon Healthcare and the process of how we use technology to ensure project success in the time of COVID-19. 

Review and Re-Visit in Real-Time - Managing Project Success Through Updated Technology

No question, COVID-19 alters the approach to our Construction Management process. But, by introducing new technology and monitoring market and supply chain trends, the projects Vestacon manages can still be executed as planned. The 200,000 square foot project for LCBO's Headquarters is located in a new-built gem in the heart of the Menkes' Waterfront Community, near Sugar Wharf in downtown Toronto. This project stretches over nine floors and includes a 9,600 square foot specialty lab. As a team, we are responding to the added challenges COVID-19 brings to our projects. To continue to ensure successful completion as planned, while maintaining focus on health and safety for all involved, Vestacon's approach includes a way for all stakeholders to view the project's lifecycle comfortably without having to visit the site in person, and to ensure that it is easy to document risks and accountability. Using Holo Builder Vestacon can provide all those involved in the project with an updated real-time 360° overview of each floor and create reports and RFI's, with only the required staff on-site. Holo Builder allows the Vestacon project team to mark up and document within the project folder, and those viewing it can compare progress via Holo Builder's split-screen function. On the LCBO project, the use of 360° software ensures we can keep site visits to a minimum. 

Safe job sites are our priority and at Vestacon we go one step further to demonstrate this through our use of the Salus program. Salus is a digital safety solutions provider for the North American construction industry. It incorporates real-world site-level safety experience into the design of its platform, SalusPro - a web-based solution for the business level and mobile app for the field. With workflows that mirror how safety programs operate in the construction industry today, and with the ability to manage subcontractors, assets, incidents, and compliance, Salus is at the forefront of innovation for cloud-based safety solutions. By digitizing our forms to site-specific requirements, Salus enables Vestacon’s site staff to check off health and safety details daily in less time, and update in real-time.

These added software platforms, including CMiC and PlanGrid which we have used at Vestacon for several years, are critical to ensuring project success. They assist in our work to further our commitment to healthy and safe job sites and provide the Vestacon team with the tools required to offer excellent Construction Management Services, directly to your home screen.

 

Owners, Reduce Risk: Hire a CM Before Signing the Lease

Business owners, and people in general, are risk-averse at the best of times and so it should come as no surprise this might be the case now more than ever. Clients embarking on the challenging task of finding a new office space, whether it be to expand, downsize or simply relocate, may feel even more uncertain in doing so now as we emerge from the Pandemic. The first step is obviously to hire a real estate broker who has their finger on the pulse of the Toronto and GTA Market. The next step which may not be so obvious, but which could prove to make all the difference, is to engage a trusted Construction Manager. Read and download our latest White paper which discusses in-depth how business owners can significantly reduce their level of risk when planning an office relocation by engaging a Construction Manager before signing the lease.

Excerpts from our latest White Paper below, contact us to get White paper to your inbox

The End is In Sight

Business owners, and people in general, are risk-averse at the best of times and so it should come as no surprise this might be the case now more than ever. Over the last year, COVID-19 has brought with it a whole host of threats we could never have even imagined being faced with. Until March 2020 we didn’t fear running out of toilet paper or having
to take on the role of teacher and homeschooling our children or ever actually missing that soul-draining commute to the office. These are only three among the countless threats this pandemic has thrust upon us and it’s going to take a long time to fully recover mentally, economically, physically, socially, and on a global scale. But, there are signs of brighter days ahead.

What You Don't Know, You Don't Know

With the elusive crest of the third wave gradually coming into sight, Toronto real estate statistics are reinforcing a glimmer of hope that the perceived level of threatis waning. With the vaccine rollout underway and promise of a summer unlike that of 2020 (in a good way), people and businesses are feeling cautiously optimistic. According to a recent report from CBRE, although Toronto’s downtown office vacancy rate hit a high of 9.1% in the first quarter of this year, a rate not seen since 2008 (1), downtown touring activity picked up considerably in March. “Activity is especially high among groups who extended their existing leases in the last year or those who are now nearing expiry. In the suburbs, renewals and short-term extensions remain prevalent as tenants weigh their future space needs including whether to retrofit their existing offices or relocate altogether.” (2) Further proof to support this positive trend is what we as Construction Managers have seen since the new year. The volume of proposal requests from clients initiating their renovation or relocation and build-out projects for execution in 2021/2022 has been extremely encouraging. Though we continue to experience setbacks as a business through construction industry shutdowns and pandemic related supply chain delays, there is real potential of an influx of work in near the future.

 

Design-Build Services: Identifying, Mitigating and Planning for Success

Vestacon offers several services for all types of clients and from minor service work and upkeep of our five-year warranty via VestaCare, to large Construction Management services projects that stretch over multiple floors. Part of what we can bring to the table is our experience with design-build services, and in the last few years, we have seen an increase of requests to assist with design-build on projects in British Columbia and Ontario. In Vancouver, industrial products and systems developer ABB chose Vestacon to be the CM on their design-build team.

Michael Sengara, Business Development and Special Projects Manager for Vestacon in Vancouver describe the process and the positive impacts of working on a design-build project:
“Design-build projects have seen a downturn during the COVID crises in the traditional office setting, however, they have had a corresponding upturn within the strong Industrial and Light Industrial markets with the Vancouver Lower Mainland. Many companies such as ABB have sought to decrease their overall real estate footprint and upgrade existing Industrial facilities to meet the needs of multiple business units within a single facility. As such they have had to carefully consider the needs and wants of several business units and stakeholders. The Design-Build approach ensures that all stakeholders' needs and/or wants are brought to the table during the design development and preconstruction phase of the project.”
 
Design-build can be valuable when a company is trying to create a new business model, such as adapting to the climate of the workplace post-pandemic. Engaging Vestacon in your design-build project provides the opportunity for us to work with the Design firm, PM, Client and Consultants in the project initiation stages, allowing us to identify long-lead items and potential challenges and opportunities the project could face and that should be reflected in the project schedule.

Read more in our CM vs. DB White paper - Request it now!


Pictured: SAP Canada, completed by Vestacon in Vancouver

 

Top 5 Reasons to Hire a Construction Manager Before Signing the Lease

For a bite-sized summary of the meaty topic covered in our White paper, skip to reading the "Top 5 Reasons to Hire a Construction Manager Before Signing the Lease" in this quarterly edition of our Industry Insight. Read more below and request the latest Industry Insight to your inbox today!

I. Fill In Gaps On A Project Site Selection Team

When shopping for a new office space, clients will first engage a real estate broker to take advantage of their expertise in the market they wish to occupy. Next, clients will hire a design
firm to provide feasibility plans to assist in the process of evaluating the suitability of a space to accommodate their needs. One challenge with this is that while a plan may validate that the office will or will not spatially fit a company’s programming requirements, there is so much more to be considered when it comes to selecting a space. By rounding out the site selection project team with a Construction Manager (CM), clients can rest assured that their level of risk, when it comes to finding the right location, will be dramatically reduced.

II. Leverage Insight in Lease Negotiations

Thorough and detailed site audits conducted release will identify any pre-existing issues with, for example, electrical and mechanical building systems and equipment. Knowledge about suboptimal building conditions can be leveraged in lease negotiations resulting in the up-front rectification of potentially costly upgrades or repairs, which would otherwise later find their way into the project scope and budget.

III. Find the Right Space to Achieve the Vision

By hiring a CM pre-lease to participate in early conversations about design intent, the client can save time on site tours by targeting spaces most likely to meet their criteria. With an understanding of the design vision, the project team can review each space through an informed lens and identify potential risks and challenges proactively. A CM can further assist by providing budgets to help clients understand the big picture of their investment. This strategy will limit risk of misallocation of funds and time – for example spending a disproportionate
amount of the budget on the space itself without leaving enough money to build it out or spending time on a design strategy that is later found not feasible to achieve.

IV. Reduce Cost in Construction Change Orders

Without a doubt, cost savings will be achieved when a CM is brought on board pre-construction to assist with budgeting, value engineering and to participate in strategic design solutioning. It stands to reason that greater savings will be achieved when the CM is engaged at the onset to assist in the selection of office location. Through site audits and design feasibility evaluation, existing conditions, challenges, risks, and special considerations will be captured and incorporated into the overall plan virtually eliminating the risk of unexpected cost increases. Clients can effectively sign a lease knowing their design vision will be accomplished on budget.

V. Reduce Post Occupancy Risk

Not only will hiring a CM pre-lease reduce risks related to finding the right space to achieve a client’s project design, budget, and schedule goals, but it can also help alleviate potential for risk to a business in the months and years after they have moved into the space. Through the pre-lease site audits and early involvement in design decisions, nearly all aspects of
what clients can expect as tenants of their new space may be uncovered. A CM with extensive experience working in various buildings and with property managers and landlords can proactively address many post-occupancy issues such as thermal discomfort related to the HVAC system, unwanted sound transfer between offices/meeting rooms and costly maintenance (to name just a few examples).

At Vestacon, we go one step further to provide our clients with assurance that we will remain their partner long after their staff have moved into the space. We exceed standard one-year warranties vendors and sub trades provide by four years! More information about our 5-year warranty for all construction management clients and VestaCare, our customer care department

 

Pictured: Thornton Grout Finnigan LLP, a project recently completed by Vestacon in Toronto

Meet our New Vice President of Vestacon Healthcare

Vestacon welcomes Paolo DiZazzo as our new Vice President of Healthcare. Paolo brings his 15+ years of experience within the Healthcare and Senior housing sector to Vestacon's newest Department. Although our focus has been on primarily office renovations and build-outs for the past few years, upon inception in 2008 Vestacon's roster included projects in retirement and long-term care homes. Catching up with Paolo, we learned more about him personally, his past experiences, his favourite project, and the new department he's leading.

What are some of the strengths Vestacon can bring to projects within the Care Community sector?
Over the years Vestacon has made it a priority to hire subject matter experts in each of its departments. The collaborative efforts of all team members regardless of the size or type of project allows each client that we work for, to benefit from all aspects a project can deliver on. In our most recent decision to move forward in Healthcare and Seniors Housing, I will be leveraging my 15+ years in that sector for our new clients and ensuring they receive reliable advice and service that allows us to deliver successful projects regardless of size. 
 
With over 15 years of experience in the Healthcare and Senior Housing sector, how will you work with already established Vestacon team members, introducing and managing them, specifically for the requirements of projects within the Care Community?
Throughout my career, I have always advocated for Seniors and the staff that work in that sector. I learned over the years that to be successful in the Senior Housing sector, our staff will need to learn that “construction” isn’t just “construction” when working in an occupied space with a vulnerable occupancy. We need to appreciate and learn that every time we enter a community, we enter the home of each senior who lives there. Safety is one of Vestacon’s biggest accomplishments and this will also be one of our biggest challenges while working in an occupied space.
 
You have more than 300+ projects completed in your career, do you have a favourite project, and what made it great?
While at Sienna, I had the opportunity to be a part of a team where our task was to review the company's Emergency Preparedness in the event of a local, Regional, or Provincial emergency. Although this project did not involve construction-related activities, it did embody the same fundamental principles (Cost, Time, and Quality) that you typically see in any project. In addition, this project allowed me to train and educate over 3000+ employees across Canada. Working closely with staff and delivering on skills that could save lives in the event of an emergency was extremely rewarding.
 
Vestacon Healthcare is a new department, but few know that when Vestacon was founded in 2008 we mainly completed projects in the Healthcare sector. Your department is a way for us to return to our roots. What are some of the biggest changes in this sector that you have seen through the years?
Since 2008 the Senior Housing Sector has seen many changes that include Long Term Care Development Funding, New Operators coming to the market, Updated Care and Building Regulations mandated by the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, and the list goes on. Our last two years battling COVID 19 have opened our eyes to how many amazing people devote their lives to keeping others safe, which will re-set the bar on standards moving forward. Although the pandemic is still active, groups are working together to re-shape, yet again, new standards and guild lines for Senior Housing. Let us not forget Seniors (65 years and older) are the fastest-growing age group in Ontario. In 2016, 16.4% of Ontario’s population was 65 years or older. By 2041, it is projected that 25% of Ontario’s population will be 65 years or older, almost doubling from 3 million seniors in 2016 to 4.6 million seniors (Stats Canada). Vestacon is looking forward to being actively involved with an operator in shaping the future of Seniors Housing.

Connect with Paolo via email or reach him at 647 218 2617

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