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The Zolman Difference

February 20, 2020

Restore & Rebuild

restoration companies - workers in a facility under construction restoration companies - workers in a facility under construction

How game-changing new partnerships between restoration companies and construction companies adds a whole new level of value in the wake of a disaster

The increasing intensity of natural disasters and aging infrastructure means buildings and other structures are at greater risk for sustaining damage. Property managers need trusted partners who can quickly, carefully, and efficiently help their properties bounce back from any damages sustained from flooding, fires, and the like. Every step taken during the restoration and rebuilding journey should be intentional. Having the right team in place makes that possible.

While the guidance and recovery expertise from a reputable restoration company is essential in the wake of a damaging disaster, a handful of established restoration companies are changing the game by forming complementary partnerships with commercial construction management and general contracting companies. Construction partners work with developers, architects and engineers to design and build new buildings. They can identify opportunities for landlords to save money on construction costs or enhance the property with the more durable materials. That expertise, combined with a restoration company’s specialized focus on disaster recovery, adds tremendous value when paired together. Both services provide a strategic partnership that helps buildings recover from a disaster much faster, more effectively, and with the best possible outcomes.

Together, these restoration and construction partnerships are able to offer the services, expertise and perspective needed to not only restore, but reconstruct a property. The resulting combination of restoration capabilities and construction insights forms the basis for an innovative new approach to traditional restoration. New emphasis on the technical and procedural sophistication and real-world skills and insights that true construction professionals can offer promises even greater benefits to building owners and operators who are in need.

Responsible property managers should have plans in place to deal with a variety of disastrous events and circumstances. Part of that planning process includes identifying a well-rounded partner who understands and can deliver the skills required—including restoration, remediation and reconstruction—to deliver the best possible property recovery process and outcome. What follows is a review of the benefits that a restoration-construction partnership can deliver, as well as a few important considerations for property owners and managers to consider when evaluating the right partner to work with in the wake of an unexpected incident.

True commercial insights and experience

Restoration contractors typically only specialize in restoration. While the best ones do it very well, they simply don’t have the same skillset or experience as construction professionals—who regularly complete renovations and ground-up construction projects as part of their everyday work—and who understand construction (and reconstruction) on both a conceptual and practical level that most restoration contractors cannot match. The best collaborative restoration-construction partnerships mean that you are functionally no longer working with just a commercial restoration company, but a commercial builder as well. Construction professionals have a deep and sophisticated understanding of how properties get built. They know what’s important, and they understand what costs and where opportunities for savings and efficiencies exist. The benefit of that construction experience, and depth of resources and relationships, isn’t particularly important when it comes to disaster recovery from small or medium-sized residential losses. Where that value really makes an impact is in the commercial space—multifamily, industrial, office, retail and hospitality—especially when there has been significant property damage. A commercial contractor who operates in those types of buildings is intimately familiar with what it takes to repair and recreate them. In other words: if they know how to build it, they know how to fix it.

The value of an owner’s perspective

Restoration companies come to the table with a keen firsthand appreciation for how disastrous losses impact owners. That understanding extends beyond the physical asset itself to the full scope of loss and complexity—including the impact of a disaster on resident or tenant relationships, community relations and more. That deep appreciation for the below-the-surface issues—and demonstrated experience navigating them successfully—can be enormously beneficial during the reconstruction and rebuilding process. Commercial construction managers provide knowledge and access to the latest materials, technology, and systems to reevaluate the original building design and allow for a comprehensive rebuild that is more durable and cost-effective. In most cases, the combined expertise of both services results in a better building than before the services were even needed.

Capitalizing on silver linings and golden opportunities

To better understand the strengths that come from a well-rounded construction/restoration partnership, consider the real-world example of a 300-unit apartment complex that was damaged by a fire and had 10 units that needed to be completely rebuilt. Instead of simply reproducing what was there before, a restoration-construction company took a closer look at the schematics and evaluated what could be done—for the same price—to actually improve those apartments. Maintenance access was upgraded, a new bathroom and kitchen layout were implemented, and hallways were relocated to help create floorplans and spaces for today’s workforce from a usability and marketing standpoint. These are meaningful operational and practical touches that add real value. The property owner was then able to experiment and use the new apartments as a kind of incubator for potential future renovations.

Similar examples in commercial offices clearly demonstrate how construction experience allows property managers and owners to benefit through a rebuild that includes upgrades like new mechanical systems, layouts, materials, and design elements. That “upgrade” potential is even more evident when restoring older buildings. When restoring a decades-old building, a restoration company would restore that structure back to its pre-loss condition. An experienced commercial building partner, however, is both inclined and equipped to incorporate the latest materials and technologies, updating the structure in a way that often results in something better than what was there before.

Understanding best practices

Restoration-construction partnerships also provide the benefit of real-world construction experience that standard restoration contractors simply cannot. True construction professionals work every day with an extraordinarily wide range of products, fixtures, materials, and designs. They are intimately familiar with the latest best practices, and they know what works and what doesn’t. Traditional restoration companies don’t have the same experience and exposure to new trends, concepts, and efficiencies.

Collaborative engagement

Property managers and owners who partner with a restoration-construction team also benefit from the thoughtful and strategic planning that goes into any new build— a rare luxury when quickly rebuilding after a disaster. Construction professionals regularly work with architects and engineers, so they have extensive experience making recommendations and working collaboratively with clients and partners to modernizing buildings and offer value management insights. Property managers have to make a large number of important decisions during the restoration and rebuilding process—often with very little information. Experienced construction-affiliated restoration partners make that easier by providing them with insight and input. Property managers have access to options and information backed by meaningful data and extensive experience. Consequently, they can make more informed and strategic decisions.

A deep technical skillset

Due to the nature of their highly-specialized industry, most traditional restoration companies are simply not equipped to provide the same kind of sophisticated advice and expertise regarding the technical aspects of rebuilding and reconstruction that a restoration-construction partnership can deliver. From HVAC and mechanical systems to plumbing and electrical, an experienced commercial construction professional can provide specific insights and technical expertise that can be a true difference-maker. The best can contribute design ideas, share insights about new technology and new energy-efficient materials and systems, and provide recommendations about durability and design, ensuring that the building incorporates the latest smart building standards.

Knowing what you don’t know

One of the biggest challenges in the wake of a damaging disaster is that those who have suffered a property loss do not always appreciate the complexities ahead of them. Thankfully, costly disasters are relatively rare. The result of that, however, is that very few property managers and owners have firsthand experience navigating the recovery process. That lack of knowledge about the details and dimensions of the recovery process can be problematic when it comes to selecting the right recovery and reconstruction partner. Ultimately, that’s all the more reason to educate yourself about the hidden costs, long-term implications, and missed opportunities that can come with a poorly handled restoration and rebuild. The bottom line is if your restoration contractor understands all parts of your business and your building, they will add meaningful value to the restoration and rebuilding process.

Todd Sachse is Founder and CEO of Sachse Construction, a commercial construction management firm, and Founder and Principal of sister company Zolman Restoration, a full-service restoration company committed to rapid response. For more information, visit zolmanrestoration.com or email Todd Sachse at tsachse@sachse.net.

Posted in Zolman News, Commercial