4 challenges of building in the San Francisco Bay Area
By Tony Faccenda
The San Francisco Bay Area is one of the biggest technology hubs in the world. It started in the 1970s in Silicon Valley — named after the silicon chip used by semiconductor manufacturers. Today, the entire San Francisco Bay Area is home to companies like Salesforce, Facebook, Twitter, and Google, to name a few. The need for construction has skyrocketed to keep up with the demand for more housing, offices, and infrastructure.
This level of rapid growth has created challenges for the industry. That’s why we asked some of the top San Francisco Bay Area-based general contractors what the biggest challenges are doing construction in the world’s technology hub.
The expectation to keep up with technology
“The Bay Area provides some unique challenges when it comes to construction. Most of our client base is in the tech sector, and they’re moving fast. They don’t have time for contractors that don’t move at the same speed. From a preconstruction perspective, our ability to provide the appropriate amount of resources to help them make timely decisions is critical. From an operations standpoint, we need to be prepared to deliver our product in a timely fashion that meets that same critical schedule. It’s not easy to do.
“Of course, being in the Bay Area, we also have issues with respect to labor and materials. It’s expensive to build in the Bay Area, and our clients know that it’s a challenge to meet their budgetary goals. Since our client base is predominantly in the tech sector, there’s an expectation that we will be technologically advanced with the systems we provide and how we execute our construction process. They expect that we will come to the table with the appropriate tools to deliver the product in a timely fashion and on budget.”
– Doug Ballou, Project Executive and Preconstruction Manager, NOVO Construction
A never-ending pipeline of projects
“Building in the Bay Area is as big of a challenge as it’s ever been. There is a lot of demand in this market for construction. A lot of companies here are growing very fast and expanding. It’s incredibly fast-paced. There are always 10, 20, even 30 jobs in the pipeline with clients asking us for some service on them, whether it’s estimating, preconstruction, virtual design and construction, or just getting out there and building the job at a competitive price. Being able to manage a lot of projects at the same time without any one person being a bottleneck is important, and that’s something that construction technology really helps us with a lot.”
– Tom Juntunen, Senior Cost Analyst, Truebeck Construction
Resources are in short supply
“Right now we’re in a huge economic boom, which is driving a huge construction boom in the Bay Area. It’s probably as busy as it’s ever been; certainly, since I’ve been working in the industry. This boom is making it hard to find resources. It’s always been a big challenge to find great people that are a fit and want to help us continue to grow, but right now it’s industry-wide. From finding subcontractors to materials to fabricators, it’s a challenge to keep up with the demand and supply the resources to continue to meet our client’s needs.”
– Kirk Wagerman, Senior Project Manager, SC Builders
Keeping up on communication
“Construction in the Bay Area is very challenging. A lot is going on, and communication is very important. We have to be able to communicate properly with all of the different people on a project, make sure we’re getting the right documents to the right people at the right time, and we have to be able to coordinate and build efficiently and cost-effectively. These things are essential to any company, but especially in construction because we deal with so many people.”
– Michael Patt, Preconstruction Manager, SC Builders
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