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Lessons Learned in 2023

As another year closes, we reached out to our team members to reflect on the most important lessons learned in 2023 that they intend to apply in 2024. With the construction industry, change is not only inevitable but also essential for progress, and within this ever-changing industry lies a wealth of valuable lessons waiting to be learned. We're excited to share with you some of the top lessons that stood out to our staff this year!


“I have learned that being on top of shop drawings is very important to the success of the project. It all starts with reviewing the construction documents and searching for the submittals that are required for each project. It's important to be thorough and create a list of all items that will need to be reviewed by the consultants to build the project. Knowing how each building material interacts with materials adjacent to them is very important to understanding how the building is to be built. For example, knowing what materials need to be coordinated with other materials ahead of time in order to properly build window openings in your walls in order for your windows to fit properly. This all occurs in the Pre-Construction portion of the project to ensure what the consultants have designed will work out in the end. This process also vets out any materials that may be dissimilar or that don’t interact well with others such as adhesives not working with certain products to get proper bonding as required by the manufacturer's specifications. Another part of this is being on top of the submittals. You want to ensure that you're getting these reviewed promptly for the suppliers or trades to be able to order these materials for when they are required on-site. Staying on top of these documents and tracking their progress is important so it doesn't lead to issues getting materials on time or even forgetting to submit the documents for review.” – Project Manager, General Contracting


“From my experience this year the biggest shift/challenge we have faced is Interest Rates and Funding. Funding requirements are getting tighter and new requirements are constantly being added during the Pre-Construction phase. We have had to revise and prioritize how we are getting Owners what we need to satisfy these requirements as well as maintain project budgets. The most critical target is establishing as much cost certainty as possible for 70% of the contract value as early on as possible. The challenge with this is that it requires the majority of your budget to be purchased quickly which also limits the time you have to spend on these large packages. Cost savings can be generated on most scopes but the larger the scope, the easier it is to establish cost savings that also don’t have a major impact on the products, performance, or quality of that scope. Of the remaining 30% of the project, you have left to purchase around 5% is General Contracting costs that really can be Value Engineered. This leaves the remaining medium – small-size packages to generate whatever cost savings are possible.” – Estimator


“Over the past year, one of the lessons I’ve learned is ensuring all key components of a project are followed from early design to construction as part of a design-build project. Even seemingly minor details that may have been planned as part of proposals for other clients need to be reviewed and ensured that they are properly applied to the design and construction of the project. Building a team internally that works together and knows the project from start to finish helps ensure that the key details are not missed and that projects are successful not only for Sierra but most importantly, for the client. While there are always issues throughout a project, both in design and during construction, by working together as a team, ensuring processes are being followed, and relying on experts such as consultants and engineers, we can ensure that we minimize these issues along the way. Over the past year, I’ve seen this from both sides: through failures in some processes as well as seeing the success as projects come together in a proficient and coordinated way through excellent teamwork.” – Project Manager, General Contracting


“I think just dealing with a lot of the unknowns within construction has been a big challenge we continue to face each year and grow because of it, whether it be the lengthy SPA/Permit approval process with different jurisdictions, COVID, weather, manpower shortages, etc. I’ve learned that it is the relationships with those you are working with that ultimately determine how successful a project will be. We’ve worked together as a team to overcome and work through the unknowns to minimize delays, and cost-impacts, and bring projects to a successful closing. Maximizing the knowledge of those around you is very important as others may have a different and better way of approaching certain situations, and everyone can learn from that.” – Project Manager, General Contracting


As we navigate this dynamic field, it becomes clear that adaptability is not just a trait; it's a prerequisite for success. The lessons embedded in the evolution of the construction industry are not confined to the job site alone—they extend to our company as a whole. We are ready for the exciting changes and challenges that 2024 will hold. We are confident that, as a team, we will continue to grow and achieve great success as a company. And we thank you all for joining us on this journey!


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