Now that you have your ideas and objectives organized, the real core of project planning begins. You’ll need to be considering: what’s the best fit for your facility’s culture; what budget you think may be available; and what suppliers you’ll be considering. Always keep in mind that projects contain may trade-offs. Your ability to understand what these trade-offs mean and what impact they have to your project will help you put a realistic plan and budget in place.
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It must be said that, professional guidance can make a significant impact to the success of your bunker project. Working closely with a qualified architect and builder brings many years of specialized experience that you or your organization, in most cases, probably doesn’t possess. Finding solutions for many bunker issues is where the experience matters. Experienced professionals will have answers to common problems that will avoid delays and additional costs resulting from inexperience. As stated earlier, it will be a matter of risk.
The challenge is determining how much guidance your project requires. Being honest with yourself and your staff’s capabilities in terms of time requirements, expertise, and willingness will go a long way in choosing the right amount of guidance. The good news is that most architects and builders are willing to fit into your needs and help you define the working relationship that will provide results.
Over recent years, a newer approach to construction is worth noting -- construction management. Different from conventional or design/build projects, construction management allows you to define the roles and responsibilities differently, yet retain an independent manager that looks out for your interests.
A number of architects are now addressing construction management as an entirely new and separate service. When major design elements are not required, architects offer construction management as an option. You can also choose and independent construction manager (independent of the contractor) to serve as controlling manager for the project.
Focusing solely on construction management, architects assist with project development, help in vendor selection, and manage the entire project at a rates greatly reduced from typical design/management fees. If limited design work is needed, architects charge according to the specific design work needed.
The larger costs associated with architectural firms are driven by the aesthetic creation, raw design elements, construction drawings, and their respective name value. Smaller, more specialized golf course architectural firms are providing this newer approach.
It’s worth looking into when your project can be defined as a renovation with minor remodeling. If you don’t require a signature name to perform the remodel, desire construction expertise, and are looking at ways to control costs, then construction management approach may be the answer.
The following methods are described in very simple terms. Each method will have its own set of responsibilities, working relationships and processes. It is advisable, at this point, to get familiar with standard documents from the American Institute of Architects (AIA). These documents serve as the legal basis for any relationship you form for any type of construction, including your bunker project.
A summary of these documents is located in Appendix E. For full copies of these documents, access is made available for a small cost, (usually between $5 to $15) from each AIA state office/website. The full service AIA distributors list can be found in Appendix E. Additionally, you can also visit the AIA website for additional information - www.aia.org.
NOTE: Your diligence with learning about these documents and how contracts can be structured will protect your club and result in far smoother working relationships. Each basic contract can be modified to suit the particular requirements of the project. Formalizing projects in contract form protects everyone involved, so it’s not recommended to undertake a project without this protection.
Conventional – This is the traditional method for most bunker projects and involves your club, a golf course architect, and a golf course construction company. Conventional methods are normally structured where an architect (under a separate contract with the club) provides the master planning, design services, construction details, and documents for a fixed fee. In addition to this arrangement, architects normally: interview contractors and review bids; provide construction supervision, schedule site visits, and analyze contractor invoices for progress payments.
The contractor (also under separate contract) performs the work indicated in the construction details as specified by the architect. The contractor works with the architect to complete the project at the direction from the architect.
When you’re undertaking a bunker restoration or remodel, a conventional method is most typical. It places management accountability on the architect. It is also common for this method to be part of a larger Master Plan or course-wide remodel involving tees, greens, and fairways.
Design/Build – This is a combined method which centers the relationships onto a single, responsible entity. When you’re looking for a more streamlined process, the design/build method can simplify the contract process and defines a single payee. You will see both architects and contractors solicit this method as a turn-key option.
The benefits of a streamlined method allow you to define more simple working relationships and reduce the complexity of multiple primary contracts. Design/build projects can also result in some cost savings as the supplier (whether architect or contractor) has consolidated financial responsibility. This creates a certain amount of flexibility in job costing which the supplier can reflect in more competitive pricing.
There is, however, a drawback. In a design/build method there is an absence of a true checks-and-balance system. So it is a greater responsibility for the club to oversee and insure that all construction work meets the specifications. In short, the design/build method is best suited to situations where you would be selecting the most trusted, reputable firms.
Construction Management – This method is quickly becoming a viable choice for many construction projects including bunkers. Most notably, construction management structures the project so that you can retain an independent professional to oversee the entire project. Commonly referred to as a Construction Manager-Adviser (CMa), this professional advises the owner over the entire length of the project. In simplest terms, the CMa performs all the same functions as an architect, without the design factor.
In most cases, this CMa comes from an architectural background. This service is commonly offered by specialized golf course architects or by firms concentrating solely on construction management. When master planning and major design work is not required, construction management is a good choice.
Under CMa situations, a club will enter into individual contracts between contractor and the CMa. The CMa has responsibility to the owner and directs the contractor based on the construction details. The CMa arrangement is a good fit when clubs choose to assume a portion of construction activities or materials acquisition.
In-House Projects – This method is usually seen when projects are small or budgets dictate work to be phased over a longer period of time. This option is common for minor bunker renovation projects where there are no design requirements; drainage is repaired, replaced or improved; liners are installed; and sand replaced.
In-house projects allow you to dictate every aspect of the project and, for some, this is preferred. But keep in mind, that tackling in-house projects can be a large challenge. If not managed properly, projects can get out of control, increasing your costs and delaying completion.
If your capability to fully manage a bunker project is in question, you may want to consider a shared approach to the project. By hiring construction professionals to focus their efforts on specialized tasks like re-shaping, drainage work, and liner installation, you’ll be able to focus on more basic tasks such as excavating, sand installation, and re-grassing. A shared approach to bunker projects can also be considered for any other implementation method – conventional, design/build, and construction management.
When reviewing the different implementation methods, it’s important to address the concept of risk and to better understand what role you can play in your project. For any situation, you can negotiate many line item costs by assuming responsibility for them. For example, you may choose to acquire certain materials directly instead of the through the contractor. This may result in a better price, but you risk buying more than you need resulting in higher costs. Another example would be equipment, where you might be able to negotiate a better price, but risk paying for the equipment as it sits idle due to bad weather.
These quick examples illustrate that by hiring a supplier to provide project materials and equipment, you avoid taking these chances. Suppliers put mark-ups on acquired items. This is normal practice. But when considering that risk is placed on the supplier, these costs are justified.
When the costing/bid process begins, you’ll have the opportunity to review a range of these line item costs that you’ll be able to control. You’ll need to consider what line items you can tackle yourself and what level of risk you’re willing to take.
When you begin soliciting suppliers, keep in mind that history matters. Doing your due diligence when it comes to reviewing a company’s background, calling references, and reviewing recent projects will make a large difference. It is also important to consider what projects they’ve done that closely resemble your own. A good history of bunker projects will translate into a better chance of success.
When beginning your search, it is always a good idea to check with trade associations like the ASGCA and the GCBAA. They’ll be able to steer you to the types of vendors you’re looking for. It is also good to check with clubs in your area that have undertaken bunker projects and get their input on vendors they’ve used.
Architects – It’s always preferred to have an on-going relationship with a golf course architect. If this is not the case, you may want to identify architects that your facility has used in the past. Another good starting point is the ASGCA website at www.asgca.org and review their “Find a Member” section. You can look at the entire directory or select by state to narrow your search. There are a number of other resources available on the site such as in the design and remodeling overview sections, and useful information in the articles and publications sections.
Look in the full member directory list for website information. Most of the ASGCA members have websites which provide a lot of background. You’ll quickly be able to zero in on firms that have the expertise your project needs. You can also refer to Appendix G for a list of architects with strong bunker credentials.
Due to the many disciplines required, golf course architects should be evaluated based on their: knowledge of the history and use of bunkers; knowledge of the risk/reward theories related to bunkers; experience creating and managing a bunker master plan; familiarity with drainage and liner products/techniques. You should also consider their perspectives of bunker design and determine if their beliefs and theories mirror those of your project objectives. It’s important to have an architect that can work within the scope of the work you need performed.
With architect selection, some clubs may choose to formalize the effort through a ‘Request for Proposal’ (RFP) process. This can be very useful when selection is made by committee or you prefer to compare prospective firms on a common set of criteria. RFP are discussed briefly in an upcoming section.
Finally, be prepared to make a short list of finalists you’ll want to interview. Some may choose to meet prior to a final proposal. Architects appreciate the change to meet face to face, visit the course and gain better insight into the project. In a face to face interview, you’ll be able to get direct answers to questions of design, specifications, and project management. You’ll also be able to gain a better understanding of their project teams and how they normally execute projects.
Lastly, think about contractual issues. Get familiar with the different owner/architect AIA contracts so that you can consider your eventual working relationships and the cost/payment structure for services provided.
Builders – Selecting contractors is somewhat different than for architects. The focus is normally on the specifications of the project versus the intangible nature of design and the strategic aspects project planning. You’ll need to consider how each prospective builder will translate those specs into a finished product.
Although some may view construction as a commodity or price only process, that simply shouldn’t be the case. Beyond the specifications of the job, an experienced golf course builder brings considerable insight into the process. Many unforeseen circumstances can arise during a bunker project. The right golf course builder will translate these into successful solutions and keep your project on track.
How a contractor performs the job is just as important as how much. So contractors should be evaluated based on the total package they are presenting.
Begin your search by identifying clubs nearby that have performed bunker work. Find out from your colleagues who they’ve used and what their opinion is on the quality of work performed. Additionally, if you’ll be working with an architect, they will recommend contractors which they’ve shared a good history. Continue your search at the GCBAA website www.gcbaa.org and review their member directory. It’s recommended to start your search with Certified Builders.
Begun in 1992, the Board of Directors of the GCBAA established the certification program to identify competent builders and to establish a more uniform standard of quality. It is an important standard, especially if your bunker project is a high-profile endeavor. If you have a smaller, less involved project, certification may not be as important a factor.
Beyond specifications, you’ll want to evaluate prospective builders in much the same fashion as architects – getting background on company history, key staff, and those on the project management team. You can formalize the evaluation process in an RFP, normally called a “bid package”, including the detailed specifications for the job. Generally, when you employ an architect for the project, they’ll help you evaluate or pre-qualify these builders.
Lastly, you’ll also want to again consider contractual issues by reviewing AIA documents. No matter which implementation method you’re considering, the project details will get folded into the contract.
There are many ways to structure your outgoing documents. In the simplest form, RFPs allow you to create a common document which notifies prospective firms of your intent and provides structure for consistent evaluation. How architects and builders respond to both the requested and additional requirements gives you insight into how they approach challenges and offer solutions.
It is normal for RFPs to originate from the golf course owner or from club management, but this is not a requirement. The maintenance professional or experienced Superintendent can adequately spearhead this process. It’s important for management to agree, in principle, on the basic objectives, giving the maintenance professional responsibility for pulling things together.
We’ve created two basic templates for proposal requests, located in Appendix B – Construction Documents. One is designed for soliciting architects, the other for builders. You’ll be able to modify them as needed.
Architect RFP - You’ll be relying on many of the materials created under Part 1 – Creating the Project Parameters. Gather your priorities list and shape them into to clearly defined objectives and recap your most important priorities. Other items on your wish list can get folded into the RFP as supplemental concerns in your detailed project description. Architects will be able to interpret your objectives into a preliminary plan which they will use as a guide during their initial site visit and initial cost estimates.
If you’re considering a design/build implementation method, you’ll be able to address this option at the end of your RFP package. The architectural firm will be able to address this option independently, should they have the capability or wish to offer this service.
As you prepare this package, keep in mind that this is a starting point. After review and consideration of each RFP response, you’ll have ample opportunity to discuss, negotiate, and adjust the specifics with the final group under consideration.
Builder Bid Package – This package traditionally relies on the construction plans and specs as created by the architect. If the project is smaller or simpler in scope, and you’re not using an architect, the plans and specs as you define them will need to have considerable accuracy and detail. Within the Builder RFP template (Appendix B) you’ll see a cost estimate table. This table contains line items that are based on measurements such as square footage, cubic yards, linear feet, ton, etc.. Measurements taken in your initial course inventory are the basis for the bid sheet. Again, the more accurate your measurements, the more accurate the initial estimates will be.
If you’re considering the design/build method provided by a builder, then include this as a requirement in your initial description and in your project details. Not all builders provide this option, so it’s good to place it up front in your document.
When creating the builder bid package, you should consider it in two distinct parts. The first part should solicit all of the information regarding their company history, key personnel, references, and details on bunker projects that resemble your proposed project. The second part should contain all of the physical details of the project including specifications, methods, and scheduling/timeframes. If you’re considering assuming some of the project risk by acquiring products directly or performing a portion of the work, preface the specifications with details on what the shared approach might entail.
When building the specifications for the builder RFP, be thinking about how you’re going to set up the project contractually. With contractors, you can setup the basis of payment as a “Stipulated Sum” or as “Cost of the Work Plus a Fee”. The latter is normally used when there is not a competitive bidding situation. For larger more complex projects, the stipulated sum approach is most common.
As you begin to receive responses to your RFPs, it’s important to consider that the least expensive price is not necessarily the best choice. These are businesses and they need to make a profit too. A well respected, reputable firm that delivers quality work may be what your project needs, but it may not be the least expensive.
You’ll need to maintain a broad perspective as you begin evaluating your architects and builders. Both architect and builder understand that RFPs are an entry point into the business opportunity and anticipate a certain level of negotiating to win the contract. Depending on the nature of the project, you may find that negotiating specific line items or contract terms will deliver favorable results to the facility.
For example, you may not desire full color renderings of an architect’s design when a simple photo-rendering may suffice or you may have access to construction equipment locally that may reduce the mobilization costs of the project. Again, the more precise the information in your project details, the more accurate the initial estimates will be.
Specific to contractor bidding, you should keep the following in mind:
At the outset of design and in schematics, architects use estimating to predict the eventual cost of the project. In spite of limited information, and many yet-to-be designed details, the architect has a responsibility to give the owner an idea of the required budget - or if there is already a budget, as is often the case, to seek to design within it. An understanding of the different factors that affect cost can help the architect; an estimator needs a good all-round knowledge of construction as well as an insight into the implications of design decisions. This is a time when good estimating can really help a project, particularly specialized ones. One can honestly present the cost of alternative scenarios to your facility.
At Design Development it is still not too difficult to make changes to materials, even to the size or configuration, to keep a project on budget. Enough information is available for accurate estimating, even if the lack of specifications and full documentation means that competitive estimates, by any subcontractors or third party suppliers, may not be available. At this point both the architect, before spending a lot of hours on construction documents, and the owner who is committed to the project, deserve and need to be sure of the cost. And this is the time when meaningful Value Engineering can be done, before the phrase comes to mean merely reducing quality or architectural effect to save money.
Once Construction Documents are complete, or at whatever point it is decided to bid the project to fix actual construction costs, estimating is largely a matter of determining the reasonable cost - meaning lowest obtainable acceptable bid. The information needed to price the project will be obtained from the drawings and specifications; the clearer and more consistent these are the more competitive the pricing.
Specifications – As you’ll see in the bid sheet (Appendix B), line items are created for each possible aspect of a bunker project. The accuracy of the weights and measures will have the greatest impact of bid accuracy. Experienced architects should provide extremely accurate measurements based on their detailed construction documents. If it is a preliminary phase, then basic approximations will be used.
Timelines – The scheduling of your project will also impact the bidding process. A faster, tighter project timeline can be more costly. Seasonality will also impact the project bids, where inclement weather seasons can force overruns. The more flexible your timeline is, the more this can positively impact bids.
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