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Wednesday, March 3, 2021

1988-2018 Technology, requirements impact construction over 30 years

Harold Muckleroy is CEO of commercial contractor Muckleroy & Falls. The company’s first project was a 20,000 square foot warehouse facility in 1986, just a couple of years before the start of the Fort Worth Business Press.

We asked Muckleroy what the world of construction was like in Fort Worth in the 1980s.

FWBP: What was permitting like 30 years ago?

Muckleroy: In 1988, most small commercial permits (tenant finish-out) and residential permits could be “walked through” the permitting department, resulting in a much faster permitting process. Often permits would be issued that day or within a few days of application for these type permits. Permits for more complex projects could be obtained within 21-30 days. Today, it is not unusual for the permits on complex projects to take 75 days or longer. Additionally, the information required for permitting was substantially less 30 years ago. In today’s construction environment, a business is required to have professionally drawn and sealed plans that require time for preparation and much more cost for the for the business owner.

FWBP: What about the cost of projects then?

Muckleroy: Construction costs have increased by more than 400 percent during this 30-year period, led by more expensive materials and labor driven by inflation. Additional requirements within the building codes include life safety systems, storm water management, landscaping requirements and energy conservation. More regulation has added substantial cost to the construction process.

FWBP: How has technology changed over 30 years?

Muckleroy: The use of technology has dramatically increased the transfer of information. Today, plans can be distributed from the design team to the contractor and then the subcontractors within less than a day.

Thirty years ago, plans had to be hand delivered to a printing company, then hand delivered back to the contractor, who would then have the subcontractors pick up the plans, check them out (with a deposit) and have them returned to the general contractor within three days so that the next subcontractor could check out the plans and repeat the process.

Today, we utilize tablets, laptops, GPS, lasers and other high-tech devices to build each project. The use of these devices substantially reduces the number of people-hours required for supervision and construction of various projects. This technology also allows for greater accuracy and more flexibility in the design.

FWBP: Aside from technology, how has the construction process changed?

Muckleroy: The industry has progressed towards the Construction Manager at Risk (CMAR) process versus the low bid award. This contract type creates more collaboration among the design team, contractor, subcontractors and the owner.

By bringing the general contractor on board as a team member, the project can be evaluated by the team for the best materials, techniques and budgeting of the project. This process greatly reduces the risk for the owner and speeds up the development process.

In this process, the Construction Manger provides pre-construction services, constructability expertise, cost estimating, budgeting, schedule development and construction management. This process also allows for the team to continually look for ways to enhance quality and save the owner time and money by incorporating previously successful techniques.

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