A Spring Starter: 2014 ABC Golf Tournament

April 4, 2014

The Greater Houston chapter of Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) hosted its annual Spring Golf Tournament on Monday, March 31 at The Clubs of Kingwood. The annual tournament benefits the ABC Scholarship Fund and welcomes construction and golf enthusiasts to network and enjoy beautiful spring weather.

Interface Consulting continues to serve on the organization’s planning committee and is a recurring team photo sponsor. This year, our consultants Sarah Spurgeon and Lisa HoLung were on the course taking photos of the 230+ golfers before the shotgun start. The team photos were then printed and framed for the golfers to pick up at the Awards Dinner.

The Fall Tournament will be held at the Wildcat Golf Club on October 13; we look forward to seeing you there!

For more info about ABC Houston: http://www.abchouston.org

New Port Facilities and Improvements Fuel Global Trade Competition

March 25, 2014

The March issue of Construction Headline News focuses on domestic and international plans to expand and improve port infrastructures. With nearly 5,000 ports worldwide, the competition for trade routes is greater now than ever before, and it is important that ports stay competitive in size and capacity through varying methods.

For instance, to compete with the increasing number of ships passing through Brazilian ports, the Port of Buenos Aires is investing in an expansion project that includes deepening its cargo area to allow larger ships to maneuver through. Providing additional physical space and depth for larger ships is attractive to trade partners; alternatively, some authorities are pursuing growth through system innovation. The Port of Halifax is committed to supporting increased tourism by constructing a shore power system designed to connect cruise vessels to electricity while in port, so that they do not have to idle on auxiliary engines.

To read more about port progress, check out this month’s issue of Construction Headline News.

International Skyscraper Construction Aims to Change City Landscapes

February 26, 2014

The February issue of Construction Headline News features the new change of city landscapes: skyscrapers. Since the end of the 2009 financial crisis, skyscraper construction has become a trend worldwide with China leading in 2013 with 37 tower projects. Known for having the world’s tallest building, Dubai adds on to their list with the completion of the JW Marriot Marquis Hotel Dubai Tower 2, the tallest building built last year. Toronto is leading North American development with 135 highrise buildings under construction and New York follows with 91 projects in the works.

The direction of skyscraper construction won’t be coming to a halt any time soon. By the year 2022, China is predicted to have over 1,300 skyscrapers, beating the United States’ projected amount of a little over a thousand. New Zealand is in the process of building their tallest building and is expected to be completed in 2020.

For more information about these trending towers and other news in construction check out this month’s issue of CHN.

Panama Canal Expansion Plagued with Delays, Overruns, and Competition

January 24, 2014

The Panama Canal’s cost overrun dispute may not only cause a halt in expansion, but give their competition a great advantage. Originally estimated at $5.2 billion, the overall cost to build is now up to $7 billion. Depending how long it take to solve this dispute, building on this century old waterway may come to a halt.

Nicaragua has set the construction of a shipping route from the Pacific Ocean to the Caribbean that will bring easier travel for bigger ships while Egypt’s Suez Canal has become a cheaper alternative for travel. With cheaper tolls and easier travel, the cost of Panama’s expansion might be in vain. Maersk Line, the world’s biggest container shipping company, has already deserted the Panama Canal in favor of the Suez Canal for its cheaper route. Along with these alternatives, other companies are using shipping ports in California and transitioning goods by train to decrease costs.

The construction of the Nicaragua shipping route is expected to begin this December and will take five years to complete. For more information about the Panama Canal, its competition and other news in construction, check out the January 2014 issue of Construction Headline News.

Games On: Olympic Construction Progresses for Future Host Cities

December 20, 2013

Let the games begin in the December 2013 issue of Construction Headline News. With the opening day for the 2014 Winter Olympics quickly approaching, all eyes are on host city Sochi, Russia, and all hands are on deck to finish necessary construction projects. Although the city’s construction schedule is cutting it close, Sochi’s construction management issues are nothing compared to the construction issues plaguing Rio de Janeiro’s 2016 summer games deadline. Other Olympic city hosts, who have either secured their place or are in the running, are all in the processes of building new stadiums, modernizing infrastructure, or securing construction financing. Visit this month’s issue to discover how future host cities like Gangwon, South Korea; Tokyo; and even Ashgabat, Turkmenistan, are getting in on the Olympic construction craze.

Be sure to also check out some of the other articles in this month’s issue, which cover a wide-range of issues such as construction litigation and disputes, defects, delays, costs, management, and methods.

To subscribe to Construction Headline News, please visit our website at www.constructionheadlinenews.com, or send us an email at chn@interface-consulting.com.

We at Interface Consulting want to wish all our readers a healthy, safe, and happy holiday season, and we look forward to bringing you the best in construction news next year.

Rise in Construction Defects Leads to Litigation, Costly Settlements

November 25, 2013

The November issue of Construction Headline News highlights the ongoing multi-million dollar battles between owners and contractors over construction defect claims. Civil, infrastructure, and building projects are seeing the most defect litigation, some of them many years after project completion. While some lawsuits are just getting started, others are being averted through costly settlement agreements at the expense of the contractors. Read on to discover which projects are experiencing defects, the myriad of issues involved, and how owners are fighting back through litigation to combat rising repair costs.

A $154 million cost overrun lawsuit is winding its way through the courts as Wayne County seeks to recover costs from the contractor on the unfinished Detroit jailhouse.  More construction defects are making the news as substandard construction on the $1 billion San Diego 405 Freeway has led to delays due to faulty retaining walls. Also, the consumer advocates allege that the controversial Keystone XL Pipeline has more than 100 defects stemming from shoddy construction that can lead to unsafe operating conditions.  Anchorage is in the news again as municipal officials try to explain almost $5 million in cost overruns on a $5.8 million power plant project.

Death, Taxes… and Changes: A Glimpse

November 4, 2013

By: Gray Slocum

It’s not too late to check out the October 2013 issue of Modern Contractor Magazine for Interface Consulting vice president and principal consultant Chris Sullivan’s article, “Death, Taxes… and Changes.” In the article, he summarizes the importance an effective change management process, provides insight into potential issues, and recommends ways to maximize your ability to successfully manage a project through changes.

According to the article, an effective change management process includes the following five (5) key steps:

1. IDENTIFICATION
Identification of a change is often the hardest part of change management, as some changes may initially be subtle in nature. A change can be defined as any anticipated or actual deviation from the contract basis, scope of work, cost, or schedule. All key project team members should be familiar with the contract scope, estimate basis, and schedule in order to enable them to more quickly identify variances from the contract basis.

2. NOTIFICATION
Most contracts have change notice provisions that require a contractor to provide notice to the owner of potential changes within a fixed period of time. Construction disputes often result from a failure to provide timely and written notice of a change. Timely notice enables the owner the opportunity to review and analyze the potential impact of a change before deciding whether to implement the change.

3. DOCUMENTATION
The next step is to document the change and its impacts. Furthermore, confirm in writing all relevant oral directives and changes.

4. CHANGE ORDER PREPARATION
The change order proposal and estimate should be prepared as soon as possible, keeping in mind any contractual time limits. The estimate should be based on the best available data using the contractual unit rates and mark-ups or other contract requirements, where applicable.

5. RESOLUTION
Parties are encouraged to settle changes as quickly as possible, as changes made earlier typically result in less rework and allow more time for efficient planning and scheduling, hence minimizing project cost. A properly documented and prepared change order proposal stands a much higher chance of resolution when it is based on contemporaneous data and factual information.

Remember, change is inevitable on construction projects, but it’s how changes are managed that determines project success. For the complete article, please visit the following link to our website: http://www.interface-consulting.com/articles/death-taxesand-changes/

Construction Industry Hangs in Suspense over Government Shutdown

November 4, 2013

The October issue of Construction Headline News focuses on the impact the government shutdown had on the construction industry. While US congress members wrangled over spending bills and healthcare, the construction industry hung in suspense over how the government shutdown will affect projects both in the works and ongoing. From defense infrastructure to transportation, construction projects across multiple sectors were suspended while many federal contractors were furloughed. Read on to learn more about the types of projects at risk and the potential longer-term effects on the industry.

Construction arbitration matters are making headlines this month. Particularly, an increasing number of Chinese firms are flocking to Hong Kong, instead of elsewhere in Asia or London, with their international commercial disputes that are tried under the rules of the New York convention. When it comes to disputes, Lakeshore TolTest Corp., is under fire and more than $70 million worth of contract work is on hold as several vendors allege nonpayment. In other news, a group of Philadelphia business and political leaders aim to bring a natural gas pipeline into Philadelphia straight from the Marcellus Shale site to fuel economic growth in the city.

Coal Power Industry Threatened by Regulations; Natural Gas Picks up Steam

September 27, 2013

The September issue of Construction Headline News spotlights the US coal industry’s reaction over pending EPA regulations requiring coal-fired plants to implement expensive solutions to trap and store carbon emissions. Set for release on September 20, the regulations may suffocate the fizzling coal power industry, with many plants already at risk for replacement to accommodate lower-cost power sources such as natural gas. Read on to discover how the new regulations and alternative fuel sources are changing the power generation landscape in the US.

Settlements are in the news this month as the North Carolina Department of Transportation has agreed to pay Skanska Corp., over $13 million to settle a lawsuit concerning the three-year delay surrounding the I-485 project. The Louisiana Stadium and Exposition District board voted to settle a contractor’s lawsuit regarding alleged irregularities on the New Orleans Arena project bidding process. The City of Prescott has agreed to pay over $300,000 to settle a payment dispute with the contractor on the Prescott Airport runway safety improvement project for money that was still owed on the contract.

Conquering the Summit with the Future Leaders Program

September 20, 2013

By: Jennifer M. Hatten

The Engineering and Construction Contracting Association (ECC) held their 45th annual conference September 11 – 14, 2013, at the JW MarriotDesert Springs in Palm Desert, California. This year’s attendance was the largest in the conference’s history with over 750 registered attendees. Centered on the theme, Conquering the Summit, Aspiring to Flawless Project Delivery, the ECC delivered an exciting conference that provided valuable insight into how to deliver an unspoiled project.

A unique aspect of the ECC is the Future Leader Program. This program brings together new and young industry leaders and allows them to take on an active role not only in the ECC, but directly in the conference. The Future Leader Program plans for months and meets one day before the conference begins to provide an avenue for thought leadership and personal development.

I was able to be a part of the Wednesday Working Session Planning Team on September 11, 2013, that coordinated speakers and round table discussions. The team had the day organized into three main topics: Thought Leadership, Collaboration and Networking, and Industry. The Thought Leadership discussion was lead by Bill Hawkins of the Marshall Goldsmith Group. Bill is an expert in leadership and executive coaching and has worked with more than 20 Fortune 500 Companies. Bill spoke on the topic, “what got you here won’t get you there,” which is also the title of one of his published books, What Got you Here Won’t Get You There: How Successful People Become Even More Successful.

The Collaboration and Networking discussion was led by Denise Elston and her husband, Rob Elston. Denise was a huge success the previous year’s conference and was brought back by popular demand. Denise retired from Shell in January 2013 after 28 years of service. At the time she retired, she was the Vice President, of Safety, Environment and Sustainable Development (SE/SD) for the Upstream Americas (UA) business. Rob Elston has worked for Shell for 26 years. For the past 10 years, he has worked in Downstream where he supported refinery and chemical plant operations, helped maintenance positions, served as a reliability engineer, and causal analysis team lead.

The Industry discussion was an insightful round table discussion with current leaders in capital projects from companies such as Advanced Project Solutions, Worley Parsons, CH2M Hill, Burns & McDonnell, Albemarle, Eastman Chemical Company and Universal/Pegasus International, Inc.

The Wednesday Working Session Planning Team put on a great program that was engaging and informative. It is great to be a part of such a dynamic group that continues to grow each year.