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Case Study - McCarthy Performing Arts center

McCarthy and Buildr join forces for Torrey Pines’ project closeout
The 150+ year old contractor ups their closeout game because a bunch of 3-ring binders is so 150 years ago.
The 150+ year old contractor ups their closeout game because a bunch of 3-ring binders is so 150 years ago.
The 150+ year old contractor ups their closeout game because a bunch of 3-ring binders is so 150 years ago.
By
the team at Buildr
,
August 23, 2019
Efficient and systematic closeout with clear directory for owner

Background

Established in 1864, McCarthy Building Companies, Inc. strives to be the best builder in America, touting its core values of a genuine, team-based, all-in mentality while maintaining relationships with trust and authenticity. McCarthy prides itself on building a sustainable future, currently investing $7.6B into green construction projects.
Buildr was founded last year by two Procore alum, Michael Stock and Edward Gonzalez, along with Caleb Taylor. Buildr focuses on helping project teams complete jobs faster while automating construction workflows. This ultimately strengthens the entire hand-over process between general contractor and owner, as project data is transformed into the foundation that is used to maintain the owner’s project for the next century. Influenced by their years of experience at Procore and observation of the way the industry was trending, Buildr launched with the blessing of Procore CEO Tooey Courtemanche. While still continuing to build on the Procore platform, Buildr provides customized workflow solutions to exponentially save time and money for construction companies.

Challenge

Back in November of 2017, a groundbreaking ceremony commenced on the land that would soon be occupied by the 30,623 square-foot performing arts center that would be home to the Torrey Pines Players—singers, dancers, and musicians of Torrey Pines High School in Del Mar, CA. Looking forward to a new center for the last 27 years, veteran Torrey Pines High theater teacher Marinee Payne described the project as “a dream come true.” The center, a $20 million-plus undertaking by McCarthy, would feature two buildings: a performing arts center building with a grand lobby and a music/dance building with a central, outdoor performing plaza between them. The arts center would require a proscenium theater, black box theater, scene shop, green room, dressing rooms, and various other rooms and facilities regarding theater operations. For the center to be completed for students commencing their new school year in the Fall of 2019, construction would have to go off without a hitch—including a timely closeout process.
Maggie Archer, project engineer at McCarthy, was one of the people responsible for closeout. Maggie was relatively new to construction with 3 years under her belt, though she’d already dabbled in the closeout process several times. Her general experience with closeout could be defined as difficult and arduous, though she understood that it was part of the job and someone had to do it. “They tell you the earlier you start closeout the better,” said Maggie, “and this is totally true. If you wait until the last minute, it’s pretty unbearable. You can never start too early.” For the last McCarthy project she was on—incidentally with the same owner—construction took 2.5 years in full, with closeout lasting an entire year. A similar timeline simply wouldn’t be acceptable for the performing arts center in Del Mar.

Less Excel spreadsheets, clearer directories

Maggie was put in touch with Buildr about 2 months into an already-underway closeout for the performing arts center. She explained to the Buildr team that her process up to that point had involved cumbersome Excel spreadsheet tracking logs. These spreadsheets would sooner or later be deserted in favor of directly referencing the spec book, where she’d physically check off each item upon completion. Maggie shared her in-progress spreadsheets and project requirements with the Buildr team, who handled the rest. She also explained closeout-related hardships on past projects so that Buildr could be sure to address them this time around.
“Time was probably cut in half by using Buildr. It was something that I could keep on in the background of my computer and not have it constantly open. Line items, things I was looking for—I could just pull them up and it was super quick to reference. I could take screenshots of things people still owed me and snip those into emails.”
Maggie Archer, Project Engineer
On the previous project between the owner and McCarthy, the owner encountered problems using the directory McCarthy had provided them. This resulted in several back-and-forths to figure out who was responsible for each trade item on the project. “It ended up being really easy to navigate,” said Maggie, speaking on Buildr’s new and improved directory. “It made it very simple to identify which contractor was responsible for which trades on-site... I haven’t received a single email from the maintenance crew asking who’s responsible for what, so I have to believe Buildr has taken care of that issue.”

”Using Buildr was almost...fun.”

In the end, the Torrey Pines High performing arts center was completed in 18 months, with closeout consisting of just 4 months out of that total. Buildr’s assistance doubled the efficiency of closeout by Maggie’s estimates, allowing for a successful final project hand-over to the owner prior to the Fall of 2019. Maggie spoke highly of Buildr, noting that aside from heightened efficiency and line-item clarity for the owner, it personally made her job an overall better one.
“Me and the other project engineer—it wasn’t so much a competition—but we’d let each other know when we uploaded PDF’s so we could watch the completion percentage go up. We’d celebrate progress, which was strange but the whole process was a lot more enjoyable. Using Buildr was almost... fun. I’m a lot more optimistic. I probably won’t dread closeout as much.”
Maggie Archer, Project Engineer
Buildr takes plenty of pride in upgrading closeout’s reputation to “almost fun.” Hearing our clients issue sentiments not normally associated with closeout is why we do what we do, and it’s likely similar to the type of elation Maggie and her team felt when progress percentages reached 100% in their dashboard. Maggie confided that she couldn’t wait to tell other members of her team about Buildr: “I’m excited to introduce it to other McCarthy people who don’t know about it. ‘Maggie, you found such a cool thing to use!’ That’ll be fun.”