Tactics For Maintaining Operations During Construction

Maintaining successful operations of a facility while it undergoes redesign and construction can be challenging, but with the proper planning and careful execution, the improved or expanded spaces can be brought online with minimal disruption to your daily operations. FitzGerald has worked on several projects where the client requires their facility to maintain regular operations throughout the construction phase, most recently the expansion and renovation to the King-Bruewart House (pictured left) continuing care retirement community in Burr Ridge, Illinois.
Phase I at King-Bruewart House—including the relocation of the resident mailroom and the creation of a new employee entrance—has recently been completed. During construction a temporary mailroom was created and employees were provided an alternate route to enter the building. Phase II will start later this year and include a complete renovation of the facility’s commercial kitchen and service spaces. The kitchen renovation is scheduled to occur in two phases: in the initial phase, half of the kitchen will be demolished and rebuilt while the other half continues to provide uninterrupted food service to the facility. Once the first phase of work has been brought on-line, operations will shift to the new portion of the kitchen while the remaining area is shut down and renovated.
We sat down with some of FitzGerald’s Project Management team to discuss the keys to successful coordination during work on active facilities and compiled a few of their best tips and tactics.
First and foremost, comprehensive pre-construction meetings will make sure that all members of the client’s organization, the general contractor, subcontractors, and the architect all share the same timeline, guidelines, and understanding of the client’s needs. Plans for Efficient Phasing, Site Logistics, Access/Utility Disruptions, and Communication are just a few of the processes that should be coordinated in advance of groundbreaking.
Create Efficient Phasing Plans. A focus on how the project will progress is integral to minimizing the disruption to the active facility during different phases of construction. Depending on the facility’s functions, losing access to an area or an entrance during construction is manageable, but the earlier it is planned for, the more comfortable the response plan will be.
Make and Enforce a Plan for Site Logistics. Clearly defined locations for construction parking, dumpsters, and site access are critical, and should be as isolated as possible from the facility’s clientele and daily operations. If space is limited for construction storage and staging, just-in-time delivery of materials may assist to minimize the impact of material storage on the site. If a facility has specialized atmospheric or infection control restrictions, measures should be taken to protect those areas through every phase of construction.
Identify Anticipated Access and Utility Disruptions. Planning and notifying all parties of any utility or area disruptions are necessary to ease or eliminate frustration from the facility’s front line staff, visitors, and management. Precise scheduling and backup measures should be employed to ensure that when utility or mechanical system interruptions occur, either planned or unplanned, the impact on the facility is not felt any longer than is necessary.
Develop and Share Communication Plans. A facility operator has many stakeholders, the most important of whom are his/her clients, customers, and visitors. Wayfinding efforts should be clear and convenient, helping to guide patrons and staff safely and conveniently around any temporary disruptions. A good design and construction team knows that while the facility is their job site, the appearance and convenience of the facility is a reflection of their client’s brand and even the construction itself is a reflection of the facility operator’s commitment to improving the services they provide to their patrons.