Whitepaper: 04.24.2013

Delivering Certainty

A Self-Performing Contractor Delivers Tangible Benefits for Owners   

A self-performing general contractor may mean the difference between getting what you pay for on your next building project versus falling short of expectations. Unlike a traditional broker of construction services, a self-performing contractor is a builder. Why could this be important? A self-performing general contractor brings with them a thorough understanding of the construction process and an ability to carefully scrutinize and manage their own work as well as that of other subcontractors on-site. This knowledge can directly impact the likelihood of a project finishing on schedule and within budget, while still achieving or surpassing quality goals. 

What is Self-Perform?
A self-performing builder uses its own labor force to construct or complete certain portions of a project such as steel erection and placement, concrete forming and placement, and carpentry and industrial trade work. This building approach enhances communication since the contractor is directly overseeing the on-site laborers building the structure and performing critical path functions. Decisions can be made quickly and efficiently. The contractor also has better control of quality and safety issues because its own crews are already familiar with these protocols. As a result, less time is spent training subcontractors on new procedures. Finally, there are fewer incidences of subcontractor disputes that can shut down a project costing critical time and dollars.

Proven Success
As a true self-performing contractor, McCarthy maintains a skilled labor force and brings this hands-on construction expertise to all of its projects. In both the public and private sectors, clients have experienced the benefits of McCarthy’s self-perform capabilities.  

For example, McCarthy recently constructed the Dallas City Performance Hall (CPH), a 124,000-square-foot, multi-phase theatre facility. The structure is composed of a long sweeping roof flanked by two stories of cast-in-place concrete walls. It is organized as a series of linear pavilions, capped by varying ribbon-like roof forms.  

The pair of two-story walls is constructed from 4,500 yards of architecturally exposed, cast-in-place concrete, all performed by McCarthy crews. These concrete walls stretch nearly 240 feet in length and reach 75 feet in height poured in 13’6” lifts. The walls also serve as the building’s electrical chases and required extensive coordination to ensure all of the exposed devices were correctly located and that the embedded mechanical, electrical and plumbing (MEP) items did not compromise the structural integrity or aesthetics. Inside the main audience chamber, these same walls have a unique articulating board-form finish producing a dramatic architectural element, highlighted by up-lighting, and also allowing the walls to become an acoustic element in dispersing the sound and echoes inside.

McCarthy extensively utilized Building Information Modeling (BIM) to coordinate this work, ensuring the structural integrity of the walls, the proper location of the MEP equipment, and the desired horizontal wood grain architectural finish. The timely completion of the concrete work by McCarthy crews helped drive the overall schedule. The project was completed on time and on budget, and the quality of the concrete work has been recognized by the owner and the public.    

A second example of a successful, self-perform project currently underway is the construction of new ozone facilities for the existing North Texas Municipal Water District water treatment plant in Wylie, Texas. The $112 million project supports the ozonation treatment process that reduces disinfection by-products and taste and odor compounds in the water system.

This complex project involves a myriad of construction techniques and equipment installations. McCarthy is performing numerous work packages including structural concrete, site concrete, installation of yard and process piping, installation of mechanical equipment, installation of miscellaneous metals including grating and temporary shoring, excavation and backfill, and demolition. Complex construction of this nature requires extraordinary coordination. The ability to self-perform these interrelated scopes of work facilitates better schedule control over the project. McCarthy superintendents and the foreman work collaboratively to develop daily work plans that maximize the efficiency of the construction operation. Quality control and commissioning is enhanced by our workforces having an intimate knowledge of the work in place.

Conclusion
Self-performing contractors have heightened risk because they assume responsibility for the quality of the entire job, not just the part being self-performed. A self-performer knows how to set and monitor expectations, recognizes what is required to deliver a quality product, and takes great pride of ownership. They have more control over employees, understand how to scrutinize subcontractors’ work, and use sophisticated, site-specific quality control programs that can be monitored daily. With fewer moving parts to oversee, a self-performing contractor can quickly identify challenges and suggest mid-course corrections as needed.

McCarthy takes pride in its abilities as a true builder, being able to take on the challenge and produce a successful project time-after-time. A contractor takes a risk when agreeing to self-perform, but the best way to control a project’s cost, schedule, quality and safety is to use a contractor who performs as much of the work as possible with its own forces. The initial benefits of this method, paired with an experienced self-performing contractor, can give an owner complete confidence their project will be finished on time, with few complications, and built to the specifications expected.

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