Posts Tagged ‘VN Services’

Part-time Administrative/Marketing Assistant Needed

Tuesday, June 6th, 2017

VN Services is looking for a part-time administrative & marketing assistant.

Must be detail oriented, have good Microsoft Office and internet skills, experience in QuickBooks and willing to learn.  Commercial construction knowledge a plus. Mondays-Fridays needed. Hours are 9-3, but can be somewhat flexible.

Please forward resume to: Diana Chalmers at chalmers@vn-services.com or fax it to (440) 729-0804.

Managing Bridge and Infrastructure Projects

Friday, December 16th, 2016

Let’s face it, people’s eyes start to glaze over as soon as we begin talking about bridges or infrastructure construction. It’s unfortunate because this type of work is incredibly challenging and important. We worked on a complex claim including analysis, report writing, and deposition on the Mackinaw Bridge, and it was just for the painter! Another project we worked on was a highway. Sounds simple enough, right? That highway ran through multiple local jurisdictions, utilities, bridges, and rights of way; and that doesn’t even scratch the surface (ha ha) of unforeseen soil conditions.

With more discussion occurring about improving the country’s infrastructure, we need to remind ourselves of project management processes that can help control the time and cost of these often mega-sized projects. Obviously, the primary process that we’re talking about is pre-project planning.

  1. It’s hard to imagine that you could ever have enough subsurface conditions investigations. Clearly you can’t put a test bore down every foot (or meter); but, it’s imperative to get as much information as possible on soil types, rock formations, contamination, buried structures, etc. In one case we worked on, the owner knew that there was a high probability of mineshafts underneath the building footprint. They made the decision to begin construction anyway with the understanding that they would handle any mine issues as they occurred. One could make the argument that they made an informed decision on how to address the risk of mineshafts (notice I didn’t use the word “mitigate”). On the other hand, allowing for the possibility of random and intermittent delays to construction might be costlier than carrying out a detailed subsurface investigation, which would have mitigated the risk.
  2. Work out a detailed mapping of aboveground and underground utilities. Most people think that utility companies know where their underground lines are running. They would be wrong. Utility companies often know where the lines are, but there are so many times that their maps are either out of date or the lines weren’t actually put in exactly as specified. Understand that there are many, many examples of water or sewer lines that are 50, 60, even 100 years old. Excavations don’t have to physically hit a utility to cause a problem; even coming too close to a utility line can cause it to shift and rupture.
  3. Explicitly require contractors to track costs and labor hours to a sufficiently detailed schedule, and include an earned value system. This recommendation goes to a number of things.
    • It promotes transparency. Transparency is the daylight that discourages outright corruption or just lazy management, which creates its own set of problems.
    • It allows for early problem identification. As soon as a drop in productivity occurs, this system helps zero in on where the problem is occurring and act proactively to make any corrective action.
    • Use of enhanced project management practices is good business. Not only does it increase your probability of finishing the project on time and on budget, it also helps you (as I often tell clients) “make money on purpose”. You don’t want to wait until the end of a project before you know whether or not you’re going to make a profit; you better know how you’re doing at 10% or 20% completion. While public owners may not be interested in making money, they definitely want to get a beneficial use out of the project as soon as possible.
  4. Seriously consider employing a Dispute Review Board to resolve conflicts as close as possible to the point of origin. The closer in time to the start of a dispute that a resolution can be reached, the more you’ll save the project time and tons of money. We all know that as reaching a resolution goes further out in time, the higher the costs for attorneys or experts and the lower the return (regardless of whether you’re the asserting or defending party). There are certainly fights worth fighting, but using a Dispute Review Board can take some of the emotional energy out of the equation such that a reasonable settlement of differences can be reached. I’m a member of the Dispute Review Board Foundation, and would be happy to answer any questions you might have on this valuable tool.
  5. Keep in mind that approaches to bridges or entrance/exit ramps often go through someone’s neighborhood. Never underestimate community engagement. Local populations can be a great ally or your worst nightmare. Early involvement of local people can help assemble a work force or short-circuit possible protests of the work by addressing concerns.

As always, please call us if there’s anything VN Services can do for you!

 

I75 - Toledo

I75 – Toledo

Highway Sys. 022301 28

Pittsburgh North Shore Project

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Mackinac Bridge

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Wheatly Bridge

Windsor-Essex Parkway

Windsor-Essex Pkwy.

Claims Analysis Case Study

Tuesday, November 8th, 2016

PIC#15Blog Article – Claim Analysis Case Study

11 November 2016

CONFIDENTIAL ATTORNEY WORK PRODUCT

The information depicted in this document is of a preliminary and incomplete nature.  All relevant qualification, facts, and factors are not included.  This document is prepared in anticipation of litigation at the direction of and with input of the attorneys assisting the client on the project to which this document relates.

VN Services worked on a delay and disruption claim analysis case with the parties finally reaching a settlement; and I thought I would share some of the story. This discussion won’t get into specifics for the simple reason that the settlement was confidential, so we can’t get into real details. However, I would add that the settlement was exceptionally favorable to our client inferring to me, at least, that the analysis we did had some very real strengths.

We represented a subcontractor that experienced a loss of productivity, additional field conditions costs, and extended field conditions costs. In the world of claims, additional and extended conditions are usually pretty solid claims in terms of being able to quantify them because there are typically labor reports and job cost records for the material, equipment, and labor hours being tracked. You do still have to demonstrate causation and entitlement; but in general, these types of claims tend to be fairly defensible as it was in this particular recent case.

I would like to point out a couple of things regarding the schedule analysis used to support causation and its effects. The CM did such a poor job developing a schedule and accurately updating it that the schedules produced were not particularly useful. Happily, our client did something that I consistently recommend to contractors of all sizes – they kept detailed daily reports. Combined with certified payroll data, our client was able to (painstakingly) put together a daily as-built schedule showing where people were working and how many people were in those locations. It’s difficult to argue against something that detailed.

Loss of productivity is where things always get tricky. No matter what methodology you use, you’re guaranteed to be questioned thoroughly on pretty much every topic and angle related to the loss. This case was no different, but there were some major strengths. The biggest strength was that the client was using an earned value measurement that collected data for each room of the project and included how many pieces were installed. This could then be compared to the estimated labor hours per piece to get to the “earned” labor hours. This calculation showed that field labor was slightly less productive than estimated in the period of time prior to the occurrence of major impacts.

The key here is that, even though a comparison was made to estimated labor hours (Measured Mile analyses typically do not reference the estimate), the calculation at its core is based on actually installed materials. Because of that, we were able to use a very strong Measured Mile methodology comparing the productivity of the “least impacted” period of time versus the impacted period of time. It’s also clever in that it allowed us to calculate an aggregate productivity that included a variety of tasks being done by this contractor.

This comparison was also made possible because the multiple areas of the project had reasonably similar scopes (another requirement of the Measured Mile analysis). Comparing areas or periods of time as part of the Measured Mile is a popular avenue for attack by the opposition. The basic argument usually devolves to saying that any comparison is impossible because the scopes weren’t similar enough. We get it; but, the courts have ruled that the scopes being compared do not have to be identical. I’ll be the first to criticize an analysis that uses ridiculously different scopes for comparison; but again, let’s try to be reasonable.

It’s also well understood that demonstrating the effects and damages of various impacts has to be connected to causation of the impacts. As mentioned earlier, we were fortunate enough to have a sophisticated client that maintained great documentation and data; but we also had access to some seriously damaging documentation from the opposition that was produced through discovery. This documentation helped put together a narrative explanation for how the project was essentially doomed from the beginning by a series of bad decisions made by the Owner based on advice from its construction manager and design team. Those decisions led directly to multiple and almost constant changes in the work flow, which was supported by the daily as-built schedule that was produced that was based on daily reports and timesheets.

Our client, its legal team, and VN Services worked together to demonstrate and connect cause, effect, added costs/damages, and entitlement. At the end of the day, our trip to court was cut short. The parties managed to work out a settlement in mediation that was massively favorable to our client.

Tucker Elliott becomes new President of VN International.

Wednesday, August 31st, 2016

VN International, LLC is pleased to introduce Tucker Elliott as its new President and CEO. MTE thumbnail 2015 cropped for blog

Mr. Elliott has been a founder and principal of the company since is was established in 2009, as the overseas arm of VN Services, Inc.  To date, the company has worked on several construction projects in Iraq and a Due Diligence Review in The Republic of Korea for a proposed residential development in the Maldives.

Mr. Elliott is also currently a Principal and Vice President at VN Services, and has been with the company since 1998.

 

VNI crew at The Shams Rotana Hotel, Baghdad

VNI crew at The Shams Rotana Hotel, Baghdad

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Shams Rotana Hotel, Baghdad

Baghdad Police Cadet Academy

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Baghdad, Iraq

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Irrigation needs in Baghdad, Iraq

 

Nuevo Cleveland Opens

Monday, August 29th, 2016

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Congratulations to Snavely Group, the Design/Builder, on the successful, on-time completion on the new Nuevo Modern Mexican restaurant on Pier 9.

VN Services is proud to have done the CPM scheduling for the new restaurant, which is phase 1 of 3 of the redevelopment, located near the Rock Hall of Fame and Great Lakes Science Center.

The two-story eatery is all modern glass, wood and steel and has stunning views in every direction of City and Lake. A main floor dining room and bar seats 100 with wraparound patio seats another 100, with overflow dining and private event space that can accommodate another 250 in and out.

Be sure to stop by and have a great meal and see on of the many beautiful sights in Cleveland.