Stephen VanDyke, CSI, CDT, NCARB
How are you holding up? As I write this President’s Message, Governor Baker has just extended the stay-at-home advisory from May 4th to May 18th. Since the advisory task-force he set up to derive plans for reopening the State is tasked with delivering that plan on May 18th, it seems unlikely that we’ll get back to business as usual that same day.
Our physical office has been closed since the initial March stay-at-home order. As a small office, three of us have been taking turns manning the office alone each day, so that there is someone here to get the mail, answer the phone, and fetch/scan the variety of critical papers we all seem to forget in the office when we’re working for home. On top of my role as an architect, I’ve now become the de-facto IT guy, responsible for getting VPNs set up at everyone’s home and establishing our online conferencing protocol. My kids are both post-high school at this point, but I sympathize with those of you out there who’s roles now include Early Childhood Educator, Elementary Educator, Child Psychologist, etc.
All but one of our construction projects are totally shut down. The only one running is at a State College and managed by DCAMM, so it is considered essential under the Governor’s revised definitions. Some of the work that has been shut down is certainly essential to the client; a School of Nursing building with specialized instructional space which needs to be occupied in the fall by students, reasonable accommodations for a disabled veteran who can’t make use of his bathroom any longer because of his health issues, and a variety of building repairs which they’d needed done sooner than later. Some are shut down because they aren’t “essential”, others because trades on site do not want to risk performing the work and still others because of supply chain problems.
We’ve stayed busy on the design side, and produced a number of sets ready for bidding, but clients are reluctant to go to bid with them so they are stacking up. Pre-bid meetings can’t be held when the scope of work involves renovating elderly housing units. Municipalities are unsure how to handle a public bid opening and are opting to just delay the bid altogether. Some of the design phase projects are suspended at this point, due to timing or funding or inability to get decision-makers to make the needed decisions.
This is setting up the perfect storm for our office. Construction work will resume all at once, and the backlog of bid-ready projects will all hit the street at the same time, resulting in more construction work underway than we are used to managing. Design work will resume, and we expect clients to ask us to rally and “make up for lost time” by getting those jobs out to bid “as soon as possible”. So, all we can do is buckle our seatbelts and brace for the tidal wave that will come when the world gets back to business.
You might find your firm in a similar boat. Hopefully, you’re still working, and your firm is weathering the storm. Some news for you on the CSI front includes:
- The Institute, and the Worcester Chapter as well, is going to defer payment of dues for 3 months, to help out folks who are financially struggling. More details to follow when the Institute releases them.
- June should include our Summer Social at the ballpark, along with our building envelope program. No programs scheduled for May. Stay up-to-date with the program schedule at http://csiworcester.com/chapter-event-update/