Inspiration: the backbone of a good education…and smarter school construction

A school, like many building projects, has many sources of accountability. Parents expect great learning environments for their kids. Administrators watch costs, security, quality and schedules. The community is looking for something that attracts residents. And the kids, well, there is the important matter of the playground equipment. To get everyone on the same page in education construction and school construction takes experience, commitment, passion and something we learned when we were in school ourselves: teamwork. At The Korte Company, teamwork is as much a part of our heritage as shovels and hammers. Decades ago, we realized that the building industry is really a service industry. After all, no building is constructed by one person.

It’s been said many times before that ‘our children are our future’. We believe it’s vital to provide them with the best chance to begin building a better world. In the end, school spirit and pride aren’t just in the students and faculty, but all the people who helped build the classrooms, lockers and hallways.

How to build smarter schools: Measure twice, cut once

Accurate construction cost estimating is the foundation for any successful construction project, especially a school. The initial construction cost estimate influences many of the early decisions regarding the project design and schedule. As the design progresses, refined cost estimates assist the project team in helping make informed system and product decisions.

Your educational facility builder should understand the importance of reliable cost estimates and recognize that the sound reputation of a quality construction manager influences the contractors bidding for the project. They should also know that a construction manager with a strong reputation of producing accurate cost estimates and projects produced within the budget attracts the most qualified and best suited contractors for any given project.

At The Korte Company, we’re very proud of our reputation as being an industry leader in producing the most reliable, high quality cost estimates and are happy to say that this reputation has led to very high participation in contractor bidding for our school projects. It’s also an accurate reflection of our capabilities as a Design-Build company. Our current book of business includes more than $425,000,000.00 in open construction contracts. The total variance from estimated cost for these projects is less than seven one hundredths of one percent (.07%). In other words, our pre-construction group has a knack for getting it right the first time.

Edwardsville High School – A lesson in Economics

By the time the Edwardsville School District chose The Korte Company as the second construction manager for its new high school, the project was already behind schedule, over budget and a source of criticism from the local papers.

The Korte Company immediately hosted a brainstorming session that included the school district representatives. This conference developed more than 400 value-engineering ideas that saved $5 million right off the bat. Within one month, these ideas were incorporated into the project and a short time later, the project was completed.

The school district had specific phasing requirements that required their school construction company to complete the educational wings first, the gymnasiums second, and finally the auditorium. This was done in an effort to allow the students to access these areas and not disrupt normal school activities. The auditorium was added as the third phase due to the cost savings that were incurred on this project.

The result was an award-winning school with a commons area, science center, art rooms, band rooms, a 300-seat performance theater and a 3,500-seat indoor athletic facility, running track, weight-training room and aerobics room. Each classroom was also wired to handle all the latest educational technology. And in the end, the students were just as impressed as the faculty and administrators.

The Edwardsville school project was noticed by school construction peers and was recognized with a Construction Industry Cost Effectiveness Award for implementing cost effective principles that incorporated owner involvement, innovation, modern management systems, new technology, team building and personnel training. The project received a Reader’s Choice Award for the finest example of craftsmanship and teamwork and more specifically, the school was built to take advantage of modern electronic teaching and communications technology available.

“The architects and Korte worked well together. That’s not to say they always agreed; they didn’t. And that’s part of the value that you’re getting from a Construction Manager is looking for areas where a building can be improved without sacrificing quality, can be improved from a cost perspective, and certainly we saw example after example of that.”

        Jim Speciale, President
        Edwardsville School Board

Economics: 101

So what does all this mean? In a nutshell, it means your educational facility builder can save you money and time, and lots of it. And in today’s strapped economy, that says a lot. Here’s a quick look at some of our past school projects and the amount of money and time saved. What’s more, we’ve never had to reject bids for a construction management project because the bids exceeded our construction cost estimates.

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