Insights

How to keep your construction project moving during COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought unprecedented disruption to the world and impacted nearly every economic industry.

Construction is no exception, as the pandemic has shut down many sites entirely. Nearly 30% of respondents to a March 2020 survey from the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) said they'd been directed to halt or delay projects that were active or ready to start.

Amid the uncertainty, owners and developers are likely wondering what they can do to mitigate risk and still ensure their projects will be able to move forward once construction bans are lifted. Here's some insight from Milrose on how to do just that and protect your operations.

Construction (and planning) during COVID-19

While a number of construction sites have been ordered to stop, not all projects are under a forced pause. Some states have allowed construction to continue as an essential service, while other states have halted construction and are only allowing specific types of projects to continue.

While COVID-19 turmoil has forced many active projects to cease, it's important to note that projects that have not yet reached the construction phase can continue moving forward thanks to remote collaboration and modern technology.

Many building departments, including the NYC DOB, are adapting their procedures and allowing for digital submissions and transactions. This enables permit expeditors to continue the permit filing process and take projects all the way to approval while construction bans are still being enforced.

Life and the economy will resume eventually. When this happens, it would be a considerable advantage for you to ensure your construction team is able to hit the ground running.

Dealing with the new normal

To reach that level of preparedness, construction project stakeholders will need to adopt radically new processes.

It's not just physical construction that has had to adapt. The COVID-19 pandemic has forced businesses and construction professionals to reckon with what is, for many, a foreign way of working.

Architects, engineers, developers, contractors and other stakeholders all confined to their own homes must ensure things proceed as usual, despite traditional means of communication and collaboration being altered.

It takes a range of efforts to bring some semblance of normalcy to life under COVID-19, but there are many tangible steps you can take. Below we outline our best tips for how to move your construction project forward during this time and achieve team alignment, collaboration and productivity.

1. Develop set processes

An unstructured environment is the bane of project management. But what are the options when chaos seems to be the reigning circumstance?

It's up to project leaders to organize the effort. This can be done by actively communicating, regularly assessing and documenting project status, and developing best practices and risk management strategies.

Create a task force of primary stakeholders to spearhead planning and permit application workflows. Task ownership should be clearly communicated and clarified as necessary, while updates should be pushed out frequently to ensure everyone is operating with a shared understanding of factors like schedule timeframes, costs and project change.

If you're working with a permit expediting firm, like Milrose, provide them with as many of your project files in digital format as possible. The more we can digitize project components, depending on the jurisdiction, the further along we can move the project in the face of challenges.

2. Leverage remote collaboration tools

In-person conversations, site visits and strategy sessions are not possible given current conditions.

But you can still have the next best thing by encouraging your team to use remote collaboration software like video conferencing tools, instant messaging platforms and other communication applications.

How well you and your stakeholders utilize these tools depends on how much you emphasize and encourage use. Try to get in the habit of having a standing video chat, as lots of detail and intent can be lost in translation through email. Having face-to-face conversations at least helps with timeliness and productivity, especially when dealing with complex project phases and components, like permitting.

The type of tool you use will also decide how well you collaborate remotely. It's important to identify software that your stakeholders are familiar with, or at least can use intuitively. There's nothing worse than technical difficulties derailing an important meeting.

Architect Magazine put together a helpful list of free software that can support remote work, including tools for BIM, ideation, project management, file management and communication.

At Milrose, our full workforce has received online training and is currently using Microsoft Teams and Zoom to hold meetings as well as conduct virtual site walkthrough services. 

3. Work with an experienced code consulting and permit expediting firm with national reach

Construction COVID-19Many municipal agencies across the country are implementing new procedures to enable projects to continue moving forward while construction moratoriums are in effect. Staying on top of all those changes can be quite challenging on your own.

Milrose is closely tracking local and regional closures and service updates so that our internal project teams can provide quality service under the current circumstances. This also helps us keep our clients informed of all regulatory updates and changes that could impact their project schedules.

[For your reference, you can find our up-to-date list of all New York City service updates and changes here.]

Another way to keep your project tracking forward is to focus on the design phase and utilize our Early Code Review services for projects that are either starting or currently in design. There is a big benefit to bringing us in early: our code and zoning experts are on top of NYC's ever-changing code and zoning regulations and can flag potential code issues before they become major problems, allowing you to avoid delays and achieve shorter approval timelines.

Additionally, our Project Strategy Consulting services are instrumental in getting pre and post designs squared away before agency filing begins.  Through this service, Milrose's experienced Project Executives oversee initial and ongoing project plan development and help strategize, identify key target dates, and execute an efficient filing sequence.

Don't hesitate to reach out

It is more important now than ever to protect your project schedule and move permit applications ahead. If you're looking for assistance in doing so, utilizing a municipal filing expert such as Milrose can help secure your construction approvals now. That way, there is a shorter time frame to mobilize once the construction ban is lifted.

Partnering with us means you can continue to push projects forward and get your business back as fast as possible under what will be the new normal.

Contact Milrose today to learn more about our services and what benefits we can deliver.

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BY Dominic Tortorice / Industry News, Permits, Construction, Code and Zoning, COVID-19