(Moses Brown Y Lab in Providence, RI)
There’s a chill in the air (most days at least!) so it’s hard to focus on anything related to our projects aside from keeping the job sites warm & working and forecasting the snow potential, but this is actually a great time to start thinking about the things you want to accomplish during the summer. That’s right, I said summer. Specifically if you are in an educational environment you know that often the summer provides your only window of time to make some major improvements while your campus population is lower than normal. Perfect timing, no? Well the other factor is that this wonderful window is small, like barely a month or two at times small. So what are you to do if you have objectives to meet?
A well planned “Summer Slammer” is your solution and I sat down with our Vice President of Operations, George Malakidis, a seasoned Summer Slammer veteran, to dive into the details and benefits of these projects.
- What is a Summer Slammer?
A Summer Slammer is usually a 10-12 week project that involves upgrades, preventative maintenance, etc. that happens during the summer. Hence the name. These projects are usually found at institutions of higher education or secondary schools because they allow intrusive work to be done while the campus population is more manageable. I have been involved with Summer Slammers are several schools, including Brown University, the University of Rhode Island, and Bryant University. More recently New England Construction completed a Summer Slammer at the Y-Lab at Moses Brown in Providence.
- How to approach this kind of project?
Advanced preparation, on all levels, is the most essential step in approaching a Summer Slammer. You will want to identify your project team as early as possible, during the winter months for sure. This can include members of your campus community, architect, engineers, maintenance and your Construction Management (CM) professionals. Having them all in place early allows for you to truly forecast the project and brainstorm roadblocks and solutions in advance. If you wait until you’re scheduling the gold shovel ground breaking ceremony to finalize your key players, it’s too late.
- What are the keys to success for a Summer Slammer?
I can’t stress enough the importance of your team. It is not simply a list of people you think are important. You need to think about the life cycle of this group and how that will affect their relationship. Psychologist Bruce Tuckman’s staged model of group development is an incredibly useful tool when it comes to managing your team’s identity, I’d encourage you to take a look at it here. It can help you through the “growing pains” of your group and prepare you for smoother sailing once the project is actually underway. Another item that should be kept in mind when you look to a successful Summer Slammer is don’t wait to procure your long lead time items, ie. carpets, windows, doors, HVAC units. They may have a lead time themselves of 10-12 weeks so it is best to have all on site and in storage when you “break ground” on your project to avoid any timing conflicts. In the world of the Summer Slammer delays are deadly, because as we all know, whether we like it or not, the students are coming back. They will not be delayed.
- What steps to take now if you have a Summer Slammer in mind?
Call me! Seriously, identify your CM professional, ideally one with solid experience like we have at New England Construction. Once on board they can assist with laying out your timeline and plan of attack. They will bring a new set of eyes to your goals and help with those early obstacles. Also realize that it is never too soon to start putting your plans on paper! Don’t wait until you have your drawings at 100% or you’re ready to hard bid it. The greater your lead time, the more solid your process will be and a good process in place builds your success.
The Greek poet Hesiod once said, “It will not always be summer; build barns.” Taking into consideration George’s advice about getting your Summer Slammers planned out now, I think this poet was on to something. If you think you might need some helping reaching your summer construction goals, let's talk about how we can help ensure your success!