Johnston Community College Parking Lot Rehabilitation is Underway!

The rehabilitation of the Johnston County Community College Parking Lot is underway this summer and headed for a September completion.  The project consists of new curb and gutter, asphalt, and sidewalks.  It will also provide new blue light phones for the first time on this campus creating a safer environment.  Superintendent Tom Sanicki is leading this project and has been working closely with Draper Aden Associates and the JCCC staff.IMG_0251 IMG_0258 IMG_0253

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Congratulations to Steve Schuster of Clearscapes – Tar Heel of the Year!

The News & Observer named architect Steve Schuster “Tar Heel of the Year for 2014” for his work throughout the City of Raleigh, Wake County and the state. What a huge honor and one that I believe is well deserved!

I first met Steve Schuster when I worked with him on the Raleigh Convention Center. His firm, Clearscapes, was one of the architects on the design team and I was working as the principal in charge of the Construction Team. Steve was responsible the construction administration of the exterior skin of the building, ensuring the construction conforms to construction drawings and specifications. I had heard lots of stories about Steve and how tough he was on contractors. Those stories were all true. He is hard on contractors. He demands quality and expects results.

Steve and I worked closely on that project and I learned a lot about him and his expectations. He is tough but fair. He just wants a great job. We and I developed a mutual respect for one another on the Raleigh Convention Center job. He liked the way I worked with people and we made a good team. He would tell me what he wanted and I would communicate those expectations in a way that was different than how he would – it was successful way to manage such a large project with so many moving parts.

After finishing the Convention Center, which was honored with a Pinnacle Award for Best Building by the Carolinas AGC, Steve and I teamed up on the Marbles Children’s Museum in downtown Raleigh. That project was a lot of fun and both our teams enjoyed donating our talents to the Raleigh and Wake County communities.

After completing the Raleigh Convention Center, I continued to stay in touch with Steve. He called me in 2011 to discuss the Cary Arts Center project he was working on. The project was scheduled for completion within 90 days and things were going from bad to worse. It did not look like the project would finish on time. The working atmosphere had deteriorated. None of the team members were talking to each other and each one was squared off in their respective corner. The job was in jeopardy of not finishing and the quality was terrible. Steve and I worked together and got the Cary Arts Center back on track and the project turned out to be a great building. I think we are both very proud of that job.

Once I started Muter Construction in 2012, Steve and I collaborated on the Carolina Mudcats Five County Stadium canopy addition. What looked like an easy project was actually pretty complicated, but we worked together to deliver a great project for the owner. The quality is exceptional and we finished two months ahead of schedule.

Like the N&O article says, it really is Steve’s ability to listen and collaborate with everyone –fellow designers, engineers, the public, end user, and contractors – that has made him so successful. He is able to navigate those public projects that can turn into a nightmare so easily. That personality, the contagious passion, to deliver such landmark projects isn’t found often.

Check out the video here where Steve talks about his history, how he became an architect and his love of old buildings.

I am glad to have had the opportunity to work with Steve. I am a better contractor for it and a better person.

Congratulations, Steve!

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We Love a Good Recommendation Letter!

Thanks to Ann Williams of Hite Associates for such generous words! We really enjoyed working with Ann and her team on the Harrison Center for Active Aging in Selma.

It was a great project for our company and an important project for the senior adult community in Selma. The center was recently certified as a Multi-Purpose Senior Center by the North Carolina Division of Aging and Adult Services, which recognizes the center as a viable, fundable, and qualified provider of services within the community. So proud to have worked with this team and of their efforts to enhance the life quality of the seniors in their community!

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Muter Construction Purchases Historic Property in Downtown Zebulon

Muter Construction is pleased to announce its relocation to 100 N. Arendell Avenue in Zebulon, NC. The firm purchased the former town hall in May 2014 and has plans to renovate the structure, which dates back to 1931.

“We are very excited to be a part of the downtown Zebulon community,” says John Muter, president of Muter Construction. “This building has a great history and good bones. It’s really a fantastic space – with original terrazzo flooring and craftsmen materials from the early 1930s. Our favorite feature is the vault that was installed when the building was built by the People’s Bank & Trust Company.”

Muter and his team moved into the space in July and have plans for phased renovations of the space. “It’s a tremendous opportunity for us to be here and to have the space to grow. It was also important to us that we be a part of a community and we have that here in the downtown area – we run over to the post office, hardware store, local restaurants – we want to patronize the local businesses so that the downtown area will continue it’s growth and revitalization.”

Muter is a strong proponent of recycling his dollars and believes his company’s relocation to the downtown building mirrors the way in which he operates his construction firm, which he founded in 2012 after working with some of the region’s largest and most successful construction companies.

“I have always made recycling dollars an important part of my business plan,” says Muter. “I believe it is important to patronize local businesses. As a business owner myself, I know how important it is to have the support of the local community. Zebulon has always been a welcoming place – the town manager, town council and public works employees have all welcomed our company with open arms.”

Muter Construction currently employs 10 people and specializes in construction projects ranging from $50,000 to $5 million. Recent notable projects include the new canopy installation at Five County Stadium and renovations to the Fort Fisher Training Center in Kure Beach, NC.

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What is the Right Size for CMAR Projects?

There’s been a lot of discussion in the North Carolina public construction market regarding the Construction Management at Risk (CMAR) delivery method and it’s proper use.  I recently had a good friend from the construction industry say that he had heard I was against CMAR.

That is simply not true.  I have completed more than a billion dollars worth of public CMAR projects and am proud of ever one of them.

Construction Management at Risk is a very effective delivery method for large complex projects that require multiple years of design. There are many reasons CMAR is the right choice for these projects: preconstruction services, pre-qualification of subcontractors, reduced risk for the team members, less litigation, better schedule adherence, higher quality and better budget control. Now I am not saying every CMAR job will realize these possible benefits, just that the process lends itself to the opportunity for these things to happen. There are many local examples where this delivery method has been used successfully, including the Wake County Justice Center, new Wake County Jail and the Jim Hunt Library at North Carolina State University just to name a few.

Of course, I am biased toward the Raleigh Convention Center because it is a project I worked on personally. This project was a total success no matter what measurement is used. But, let’s focus on the cost benefit:

The City of Raleigh was able to start using the facility two years ahead of schedule compared to a traditional design bid build (Lump Sum Bid) delivery method. These two years of revenues far out weigh any savings that would have been realized using Lump Sum Bid.

The reason North Carolina-headquartered contractors are upset about the use of the CMAR delivery method is because public owners are using CMAR for projects that are too small for any justifiable benefits to be offset by the additional cost incurred using this delivery method.

The definition of what is too small is arguable and depends on many different factors such as the type of project, size, designer, owner, etc.  A good rule of thumb is to say that if a project is over $35 million, CMAR is probably your best choice; if the project is between $20 and $35 million it requires close evaluation and if it’s less than $20 million, then sum bid will be your best option.

Why is this an important issue? Tax dollars. If we use CMAR on projects that are too small we are paying too much for our public projects.

And finally, for those who believe I have a stake in whether a public Owner decides to use CMAR on small projects ($5 million to $35 million), Muter Construction has not been affected in any way by these decisions. As a matter of fact, I can’t think of a single project that we would have bid if the job would have been bid in lieu of the CMAR delivery method. So, I am as unbiased as I can be.  All I want is for the process to be honest, transparent and save tax dollars. If a project costs more but an owner feels there are advantages to using CMAR just tell the taxpayers. It may make perfect sense, but don’t try to justify that it cost less.

If you need more help deciding which method to use feel free to call me.

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Muter Construction Awarded Clinton City Schools NC Pre-K Program Project

We are pleased to announce that Muter Construction has been awarded a renovation project for Clinton City Schools. The project includes renovation to the historic 606 College Street campus facility to make way for additional classroom space for the North Carolina Pre-K Progam (previously known as More at Four). We will begin the project after this school year and work through the summer to ensure the classroom is ready for occupancy this fall.

We are so excited about being part of North Carolina’s Pre-K Program and working with Clinton City Schools. Our state’s Pre-K Program is consistently ranked among the country’s finest early education programs and serves more than 29,500 students each year. The program targets children who turn four years of age by August 31, will be entering kindergarten the following school year, and who may be at risk for poor school outcomes. Factors that can influence poor school outcomes include: low family income, children with an identified disability, limited English proficiency, a chronic health condition, developmental or educational need. Since its inception, the program has benefited more than 255,000 children in need.

We are thrilled to work on this important project – and with folks who have dedicated their lives to making a difference in the lives of the children of North Carolina!

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Thrilled with the Reponse from our North Carolina HUB Programs!

It was great fun working with the North Carolina Office for Historically Underutilized Businesses on the new Contractors College initiative. We have gotten a ton of fantastic responses from the program, and I was honored to have been a presenter. With my background as an executive with Smoot Construction, one of the largest minority owned contracting firms in the United States, and my experience working with some of North Carolina’s largest contractors, I hope I was able to share some insight into how a minority owned firm can not only survive, but thrive, in our industry!

It is great to hear from these folks on how our program is helping them to grow their business – working smarter not harder:

“I wanted to take the time to thank you for the truly informative talk that you gave last night at the Contractors College held at North Carolina Central University. Since becoming HUB-certified, Smart Contracting had been bidding on as much as we could, within the scope of work that we perform, from the flood of emails we were receiving. We thought that was a good strategy. As you pointed out last night, we were wrong. You pointed out the importance of developing relationships first, knowing who you are submitting a bid to, who you are offering your craftsmanship to. Smart Contracting stands and falls on our reputation for high quality work. Every job that we have taken on has resulted in praise from the clients and future referrals. As you stressed, and my wife and I have always agreed with, we want to be judged on our work and not on our HUB-certified status.” – Joe Hampton, Smart Contracting

 

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NOW is the Time to Invest in our State’s Future…

From the Triangle Business Journal on February 14, 2014…

According to a report from the State Construction Office, North Carolina is facing more than $3.9 billion in building deficiencies statewide because of deferred maintenance and repair issues, much of that among the state government’s downtown Raleigh complex. Some buildings are so bad off that state agencies have started looking for leased office space, reports the Triangle Business Journal. Speros Fleggas, deputy secretary for the North Carolina Department of Administration, said his office cheered last year when Gov. Pat McCrory allocated $150 million in his budget for repairs and renovations to the state’s $25.6 billion inventory of state and university buildings, but that the amount falls far short. Only $90 million of that $150 million went to buildings that are not on university campuses, and even that money had to be spread around to dozens of properties across the state. Most of the money is now filtering to the construction contractors, architects, engineers and suppliers for repairs that won’t even be that noticeable to the public. Such repairs include sealing and crack repair on a parking deck, fire alarm replacement at the North Carolina Museum of History and new light fixtures for the downtown government complex.

At the Council of State’s meeting in February, members approved the SBI’s request to move its unit that processes fingerprints and criminal background checks to leased space in a privately-owned office building in north Raleigh. The unit has been working in a building constructed in 1931 containing both asbestos and lead-based paint. Fleggas says his office does the best it can with the resources it is allocated, but a conventional maintenance and repair budget should range from 2 percent to 4 percent of a building’s value each year just to make sure the building doesn’t decline. For North Carolina’s $25.6 billion building inventory, that would amount to between $512 million and $1 billion per year in maintenance and repair costs. The legislature funded an average $65.7 million for repairs and renovations between 2000 and 2010, according to Sen. Neal Hunt of Raleigh. The state has funded an average of $74.4 million per year between 2011 and 2014.

The construction industry is hoping the state will tap the additional debt capacity that could be available this year for capital projects. According to the treasurer’s 2014 Debt Affordability Study, the state’s general fund will have an additional debt capacity of $570 million for each of the next 10 years, according to Dave Simpson, Carolinas AGC’s North Carolina government relations and building director.

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Letter of Reference from Consulting Engineer

We are proud to have worked alongside Michael McAllister, PE of Municipal Engineering Services on the Town Hall project for Kenly:

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Kind Words from the Town of Kenly

We are thrilled with the kind letter we received from Gregory Dunham, the Town Manager for the Town of Kenly:

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