1Call2Build—Our Blog

Here are some thoughts and insight on our business and the construction industry in general. We update our blog regularly to keep you informed and entertained.

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October 15, 2019

Working with Communities to Identify Needs and Build Cost-Effective Educational Solutions

United Public School District serves the towns Des Lacs and Burlington, which have seen steady growth as desirable living areas for many working in and around Minot, the Minot Air Force Base and the Bakken Region oil fields. As a result, student census numbers climbed 18% from 2008 to 2017, a trend the District deemed likely to continue.

This rise in student population pushed school facilities beyond their limits, and brought to light deficiencies at both campuses. A Capital Maintenance Plan done by Consolidated helped determine which buildings and systems were worth renovating and those needing replacement. We also conducted community listening sessions to better understand the community’s vision for their schools.

The District ultimately decided to relocate the 7th and 8th grades from Burlington to Des Lacs, creating a “school within a school” to junior high students transition more effectively to high school, and give them access to Art, Vocational-Agricultural, Family and Consumer Sciences (FACS), Foreign Language, and Business classes. At Des Lacs, a new gym, secure entry, kitchen/commons, and administrative office spaces were also required. The Burlington facility would be renovated to accommodate PreK and Kindergarten rooms, restrooms, and a secure entrance.

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The initial referendum, which called for $15.4 million in investments, fell just 4% short of passage. Consolidated and the Architect used value engineering to craft a new plan that met the District’s needs without eliminating any classrooms or educational facilities. This ultimately reduced project costs 23%, and the new $11.9 million referendum passed easily.

Since voters ultimately approved much less funding than the District originally wanted, this served as a real call to action for the Consolidated team, and led us to scrutinize every aspect of the project in order to get the District the absolute most for their money. During the pre-construction phase, Consolidated presented the Owner with 109 more value engineering ideas, and the Owner accepted options totaling more than $1.26 million in savings—without sacrificing any classroom space or square footage.

This project spanned complicated demolition, re-purposing of existing facilities, additions, and new construction, much more than could be done in the traditional summer construction season preferred by schools. Much of the site work, demolition, renovations, and new construction was to be done while the school was occupied. As a result, Consolidated crafted a meticulous 4-Phase approach to the project, allowing much of the work to be done while school was in session, while putting paramount importance on the safety of students, staff, and visitors:

  • Phase 1: New construction of kitchen/commons, office spaces, entry way, and fire protection system: to be complete by Christmas, 2018. Relocating the kitchen/commons enable Phase 3 renovations to be completed with the junior high classroom addition was completing.
  • Phase 2: New construction of gymnasium and junior high classroom addition: to be complete by Easter, 2019.
  • Phase 3: Remodeling of old kitchen/commons area to accommodate a portion of the new junior high school: to be complete by Easter, 2019. Completion of Phases 1, 2, and 3 enabled the junior high students to move from Burlington to Des Lacs in April 2019, allowing the extensive renovations at Burlington Elementary School to begin.
  • Phase 4: Remodeling of existing science classrooms: to begin at the end of 2018 school year and complete by the start of 2019 school year. Repurposing and conversion of the former junior high wing at Burlington to accommodate pre-school and Kindergarten spaces (including building bathrooms and sinks with water fountains, as required by current code) and administrative offices: to be complete by the start of the 2019 school year.

Exceptional measures were taken to ensure the safety of everyone involved with this project, resulting in zero recordable worker accidents or injuries, and no OSHA violations.

In the last five years, Consolidated Construction has New North Dakota Map with Schoolsbeen contracted with 30 different North Dakota Public School Districts in various stages of planning, design, and construction. The United School District project is another example of how we are committed to working with these communities to identify needs and build cost-effective educational solutions that bring modern amenities and 21st Century learning to rural schools.

September 19, 2019

How Interior Branding Can Benefit Your Business

Brian Vincent LG




Your building represents a powerful tool to express your company’s identity and values to customers, visitors, and employees. It’s important to use this prime real estate to communicate your company’s brand promise.

Strive to incorporate your company’s identity throughout all aspects of interior design and architecture, including color, lighting, art, and floor plans. If you have a reception area, does it convey the personality of your company in a welcoming, professional manner? What kind of vibe does your lobby exude? What about the quality of materials in these public areas? Does your break room make employees feel valued in order to build loyalty and camaraderie?

Creating a branded workspace doesn’t need to break the bank, but it does require attention to detail. Start by determining what qualities are essential to your company’s story, and identify the most important attributes of your brand. Then, consult an architect or interior designer who can help identify ways to incorporate these attributes into your physical space. Remember, you never get a second chance to make a first impression. Think of interior branding as the first step in delivering the ultimate “user experience” to customers and employees alike.

Brian Vincent is the founder and former president of Vincent Wood Works, Inc. He became a voting shareholder and was appointed to Consolidated Construction’s board of directors in 2017.


April 29, 2019

Understand Soil Conditions Before You Build

Ask A Pro_Barsness

Constructing a new building is exciting! As an owner, you want to see the finished product rise to the sky. However, it’s what lies below your feet that often reveals potential up-front risk in the project.

Before you build, it’s essential to determine whether or not the soil makeup on site will adequately support your building and parking lots.

Granular materials and lean clays are typically the best as they usually perform uniformly. Silts and expansive “fat” clays are less desirable, and typically require costly imported “engineered” soil to improve the performance of a buildings foundation. The presence of undocumented “fills” on a site, which are typically soil materials that may have been dumped on a site over a period of time could also require costly soil corrections. Engineered fills and other soil corrections do add costs to construction project, but those costs can be minimized when known well prior to design and construction.

How do you know what soils are on site? Start with a geotechnical survey. It provides a detailed analysis of the makeup of the soils on your property. Geotechnical and Structural engineers will then tailor soil improvements and structural designs to help ensure proper structural performance and minimization of differential settlement to mitigate unwanted (and often expensive) surprises down the road.

January 14, 2019

2018 Year in Review…and a Look Ahead

John Schneider

John Schneider

Thanks to our customers, subcontractors, and employees, CCC achieved a record year for construction bookings in 2018. We are grateful to all who helped us experience this success, and we are humbled and energized by your support.

Here’s a brief look at some of our most notable accomplishments last year, as well as proactive steps we’ve taken to help ensure our mutual success going forward:

2018 Achievements:

• Honored with two Gold Projects of Distinction Awards from Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) of Wisconsin for construction excellence for the Park Creek Independent Living facility (Cypress, Texas) and Ajinomoto Windsor, Inc. frozen food plant (Joplin, Mo.) projects.
• Completed our largest project to date, the First International Bank & Trust building in Bismarck, N.D., which also houses a brewery, restaurant, parking garage, and rooftop patio and event facility. The grand opening was marked by a live Toby Keith concert on the bank grounds.
• Other notable projects included the dual branded Tru/Hampton Inn by Hilton in Rapid City, S.D.; the CSW and MRS freezer projects in Wisconsin; The Views at Lake Havasu Independent Living Facility in Lake Havasu City, Ariz.; and the Tru Hotel by Hilton at Cadillac Jacks Gaming Facility in Deadwood, S.D.
• Recognized as a leader in pre-referendum services and school construction in North Dakota.
• Performed our first projects in Arizona, Georgia, and Washington, bringing to 21 the total number of states in which we are licensed to operate.
• Did more business in our headquarters state of Wisconsin than in any previous year in our history.

Internal Initiatives:

• Added two operational units for Food & Beverage and Senior Living to ensure internal experts are aligned with each of our core vertical markets. They join operational units previously established for Hospitality, Manufacturing, and Education. Each unit consists of a Business Development Market Leader, Project Director, Project Managers, Estimators, and Project Coordinators who are experts in their respective markets, and understand the unique demands of each business category.
• Completed our system conversion to Viewpoint, a cloud-hosted construction management system that connects critical business functions like accounting and project management with field operations, streamlines documentation, and facilitates enhanced communication with developers and owners.
• Added General Superintendents to our Midwest and Western Regions to fortify the project coordination, safety, and quality control efforts of our Site Superintendents.
• Expanded our self-perform workforce (Vincent Interior Systems/finish carpentry, concrete, and steel) to better serve the needs of owners in these critical areas of construction.
• Renovated and expanded our Appleton, Wis. home office to allow for a larger workforce, and enhanced collaboration among our employees.
• Enhanced our Wellness and Safety initiatives, implemented monthly wellness Lunch and Learn opportunities, and installed stand-up desks to facilitate a healthier work environment for our employees.
• Rolled out our Charitable Giving Program, which supports noteworthy causes via cash to charities (with an employee match component), paid time off for volunteering, team and event sponsorships, and in-kind gifts. Our Fixed Area of Focus for 2018–2022 is People in Crisis: those who need food, shelter, or are victims of natural disaster or domestic abuse. Our Annual Areas of Focus for 2019 are Veterans and Active Duty Service Personnel as well as Children and Youth.

Looking forward to 2019, the strong economy has provided many opportunities for growth. At the same time, it has put an unprecedented burden on our industry. Our subcontracting partners are working at 125% of capacity. Skilled tradesmen are retiring at a record pace, and these vacancies are not being filled by the next generation of workers. The result is an industry that, in many cases, is overworked and over-stressed. Despite these challenges, we are optimistic the steps taken by CCC in 2018 to improve our processes, structure, and procedures will help mitigate the effects of these constraints, and we can continue to focus on meeting your needs while creating a better work environment for our employees—for 2019 and beyond.

John Schneider
Consolidated Construction Company

December 17, 2018

Avoid Excessive Costs by Planning for “Winter Conditions”

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Snow, blustery conditions, and extreme cold are all harsh realities of living in northern states. When it comes to construction, the term “winter conditions” takes on a whole new meaning.

In construction, “winter conditions” refers to specific budget line items added to accommodate increased fuel, material, and labor expenses related to activities during the coldest months of the year. On average, winter conditions appropriations can add five to seven percent to a project’s bottom line. Costs tend to be inversely proportional to the temperatures: the lower the temperatures, the greater the potential costs.

The most challenging activities to complete when the weather turns nasty involve site excavation and setting foundations. During winter, ready-mix suppliers typically heat their aggregates and water and deliver these materials to the job site using insulated boom pump trucks. They insulate the forms, then wrap them with insulating blankets, using tents and ground heaters after the pour to avoid thermal cracks. Inclement weather can also make conditions hazardous for workers, cause material and equipment transportation delays, or block access to a project site altogether.

While not every consequence of weather can be prevented, Consolidated Construction’s project team will take steps to help avoid costly setbacks, and reduce or even eliminate the budget impact.

Before budgeting or scheduling begins on a project, we take time to assess seasonal weather trends, and adjust your project schedule accordingly. For example, excavating and concrete work is best done in dry, mild weather. Interior work is ideal during the harshest winter months.

Next, we help put a plan in place for your team to respond if an unexpected weather event pops up. Mitigate costs and get back on track by closing up buildings ahead of storms, ensuring adequate water access is set up, and shifting labor schedules.

With advanced planning and good communication, weather delays don’t have to put your project in the deep freeze.