Graycor Construction Company

May 20, 2014

Graycor’s Live Environment Work Approach Keeps Businesses Running Smoothly During Construction

Graycor has completed a multitude of projects in live facilities where our clients continue their operations while construction is taking place. We understand how critical it is to keep a business operating without disruption. In recent years, Graycor developed a detailed and unique "Live Environment" work methodology that has been successfully applied to projects at malls, retail stores, manufacturing plants, corporate offices, hotels and healthcare facilities. Graycor's success on these types of projects stems from our proprietary process for buying, planning, scheduling and executing the work efficiently while minimizing the impact to the facility, its employees and its customers.

Graycor's experience working in live environments dates back to the inception of the company. The Chicago Concrete Breaking Company, as Graycor was known more than 90 years ago, performed its first project removing existing concrete retaining walls which abutted operational railroad tracks in the City of Chicago. That project, and early projects of similar nature, not only taught Graycor how to work in a live environment, but also gave rise to our famed motto: "Wanted - A Hard Job."

Live Environment projects are indeed hard jobs, and they present distinctly different challenges from new construction. While the contract drawings provide the technical details for construction, the details of existing conditions, phasing, logistics, sequencing, and "temporary construction" scope are often not illustrated.

Our Live Environment Checklist was developed to take advantage of and document our employees' hundreds of years of collective experience performing construction projects of varying types in operational environments. By sharing lessons learned from these complex projects, we enable future project teams to learn from the challenges of past projects, thereby improving performance and preventing repeat mistakes. The goal is for each project team to draw upon the Company's collective wealth of experience to deliver consistently successful projects to our clients.

Graycor distinguishes itself by utilizing its Live Environment Checklist as a tool to assess and plan for the impact that phasing, logistics and existing conditions have on the construction process at the inception of the project and every step thereafter. The underlying theme in each step of Graycor's Live Environment process is communication and collaboration - when all members of the project team have input and buy-in on expectations, then the Live Environment process works to its fullest potential:

  • Preconstruction: Surveys of existing facility, ability of the MEP infrastructure to handle new loads and ability of the building structure to handle the loads imposed by construction. By asking these questions at inception, even the earliest project budgets can include provisions and placeholders for existing conditions issues that otherwise wouldn't be discovered until far later in the process.
  • Schedule/Phasing/Logistics Development: Understanding the phasing and logistics required to maintain optimum facility operations during construction. Knowing the number of rooms a hotel can keep off-line at any one time, or when an existing tenant's lease turns over, helps us develop an accurate project schedule and plan from the outset. At the earliest stage of preconstruction, we are having discussions about "the plan." As a result, the construction phasing and logistics plan is built around the facility requirements, rather than the facility having to accommodate the construction plan.
  • Bidding and Buyout: We create detailed Scope of Work sheets by trade, including scope not shown on the drawings - the "gray stuff" as we call it: off-hours work, multiple mobilizations, temporary barricades and walkways, and off-site material storage. Our experience is that the "gray stuff" is bought far more economically up-front as a cost of the work rather than via extra work tickets and change orders once the project is underway; cost control for this scope is managed proactively.
  • Construction: During construction the Live Environment Checklist functions as a reference tool of things to "look out for" and a means of planning upcoming work activities

Hot work requirements, shut down requirements, security services, temporary signage, noise restrictions, workplace etiquette and housekeeping are all examples of items Graycor's field supervision will begin dialogue about prior to and at our on-site kickoff meeting. The goal is to ensure that we understand the rules and regulations of the facility and to establish expectations between Graycor, our subcontractors and facility management.

The Live Environment process is applicable to projects across all markets. We continuously strive to better understand our clients' businesses so we can tailor our work plan around our clients' needs. Construction in and around operational environment presents unique challenges that require extensive, up-front planning - they are "Hard Jobs." Graycor's deep experience working in live environments since the 1920's has proven to be invaluable to our clients. Our Live Environment Checklist is a tool that not only differentiates us from our competition but helps us complete projects successfully by all measurable criteria, including satisfaction of existing facility management, customers and patrons.