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Remaining flexible as a construction management firm

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As a construction management firm, we do our best to plan for sequencing and keep development on schedule, but some projects require additional flexibility. When Union Mission Ministries wanted to construct a 275-bed facility for homeless men in the Hampton Roads community, Hourigan Construction was happy to lend a hand and lead the development of this three-story men’s shelter.

While some funds had been raised for the shelter’s $13 million construction, pivotal to completing the project was the sale of Union’s old building in downtown Norfolk. Ministry leadership expected the sale of the location to be completed within a few months; ultimately, and unbeknownst to anyone at the time, that closing would take nearly two years.

But there was a demand for the new space, and the organization wanted to get rolling. So a plan was devised to get started under a reduced scope. At this point – November 2012 – approximately $2.5 million had been committed to the initial phase of construction out of the total project cost. This was also a time when development in Hampton Roads was still grappling with the economic fallout of the years prior.

Union Mission Men's Shelter

Starts and stops

Hourigan agreed to work in starts and stops, picking the next logical step to keep the project on track. With the initial funds, the facility’s foundation was poured and structural steel was procured.

To keep the project moving, as funds were made available through thousands of donations to the ministry, Hourigan worked closely with the owner to modify design plans and develop alternative finishes that cost less, yet were still highly durable.

Financial constraints also affected sequencing; expensive mechanical systems, for example, arrived towards the end of the project, when they’d normally be installed midway through.

Maintaining flexibility

One of the biggest requirements for success was for those involved to remain flexible, and work together to find solutions to challenges. The project ultimately took three years, so contractors that bid early in the project were called on, and those that were able completed work far later than originally anticipated. Yet, many subs worked with the owner to keep costs contained at previously quoted levels.

John DeVan, First Vice-President of Union Mission, describes the pricing and labor flexibility as “a contribution from most of the contractors” that helped build the facility.

Union Mission Men's Shelter

Closing on completion

The original men’s shelter sold in August 2014, green-lighting the final stretch of construction. The 75,000-square-foot facility, built on the mission’s campus as part of an $18 million capital campaign, was completed in May 2015.

The men’s shelter – along with a recently completed renovation to the adjacent women and children’s shelter – is a $30 million campus that was entirely paid for through donations and the previous building’s sale.

Union Mission is dedicated to serving the poor and homeless of the Hampton Roads community, many due to job loss, sudden family illness, or a battle with addiction. “The men’s facility also contains administrative office space, a commercial kitchen with cafeteria, conference space, an exercise facility, and large congregation areas.

Union Mission Men's Shelter

Though one of Hourigan’s longest-running projects, it was very important work that needed to be done. To serve as a construction management firm in a community means to serve the community’s needs by remaining flexible and finding creative ways to make challenging projects work.

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