For This General Contractor, Staying On Top Of Challenges Requires ‘Thinking Outside The Box’

Date: July 7, 2022

For VanTrust Real Estate, a developer that works with commercial contractor Bob Moore Construction, a pivotal step for a construction project is getting the right materials as soon as possible.

Tyler Chapman, director of development services for VanTrust, said once the company gets pricing on materials — including roofing materials — from a contractor, it would have to be sent to the client for budget approval, which can take substantial time, especially if the pricing on materials changes.

For general contractors, however, navigating the process of getting roofing and other building materials to the site and at the right price has been a huge challenge in recent years. The industry has faced pandemic-related project and supply chain delays, and higher-than-usual price tags on materials, both of which have the potential to throw a wrench in the building process.

“The roof was always ready when it was needed for the project, however, now the lead time can be 10 months to a year out from when the order was placed, which disrupts the ordinary flow of the job,” said Mark Duvall, executive vice president at Bob Moore Construction. “Additionally, pricing has been impacted because of the volatility in the market of raw materials. This impacted purchase orders and was difficult for everyone involved.”

Duvall said because of these challenges, general contractors have had to get creative with the workflow to minimize project disruption, which is what the company did for VanTrust.

The roof should be among the first items ordered in case of long lead times, he said. Even if it happens to arrive early, the site crew can store it until they are ready for it.

“We’d rather have the roof on the site and put security on it, rather than not taking the delivery and risk having an unknown delivery time and being subjected to further price increases,” Duvall said. “If trucks show up out of sequence with a roof, we may either set it up in various places in a staging yard or put it in a warehouse or an adjacent building while the rest of the project catches up.”

Project owners should work closely with their building contractor to try to surmount pricing and lead-time challenges, Duvall said. He added that even before materials are ordered, contractors can work with project managers to finalize pricing and avoid complications that can arise from fluctuating prices as a project progresses.

Additionally, to lower the roofing costs for clients, Bob Moore Construction has switched from using thermoplastic polyolefin roofing, or TPO, to polyvinyl chloride roofing, or PVC. While both materials are comparable in terms of quality, he said Bob Moore Construction has been able to get PVC roofing faster and at a better price.

“We made the switch on projects that have both price and lead time considerations,” Duvall said. “While historically, PVC roof pricing has been more expensive than TPO pricing in north Texas, the TPO prices were increasing fast in this market and suddenly caught up to PVC. We can now get PVC four months faster than TPO.”

For VanTrust, Chapman said working with a contractor like Bob Moore Construction has helped with getting reliable materials pricing.

“Bob Moore has gotten creative and brought solutions to the table to help us work through the market,” Chapman said. “They’ve been able to alleviate some of these issues through proposing alternative materials, early purchasing or getting creative with the schedule. Thinking outside the box has been a huge asset.”

Chapman said Bob Moore kept VanTrust updated on market pricing and lead times as well as the project schedule, which is especially important in times of uncertainty.

Even if there is bad news about the project, Chapman said, because Bob Moore has the project’s best interest at the forefront, the two companies have been able to work together to find the right solution.

“It becomes easier to plan and overcome obstacles when you’re constantly communicating and working together, and Bob Moore has been a great partner to work with,” Chapman said.

This article was produced in collaboration between Studio B and Bob Moore Construction. Bisnow news staff was not involved in the production of this content.

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