Monday, February 1, 2010

Remote Building Costs I: Transportation

We have been building in remote areas for over thirty years now but every year we get a surprise or two when estimating off road projects.
Whether you are a mile from a road or four hundred miles from the road system; there are special considerations.
Most projects on the road system are relatively simple. You order your materials and have them delivered to the site, give your crews directions and meet them at the site and start the work. Off road projects are more problematic.
It really isn't so difficult to build off the road system. It is extremely difficult to build off the road system and make a profit.
There are many things to take into consideration when estimating a remote project; I have a couple of stories for every question listed below that I will address in future blogs. These are a few of the questions we ask or confirm before starting on a remote project. After building over 500 projects statewide we have run into many obstacles that can be career ending if you figure wrong.

1. Location of the jumping off spot; ie, the staging area. How far is it from our base? The crew will need to be compensated for their time traveling.
2. Is there adequate space for material storage at staging area? Do we need to provide equipment ie. forklift for loading the plane or boat.
3. Is staging area secure or do we need to have someone watching the material while we are transporting. Can we leave equipment there overnight or do we need to take it with us?
4. Is there lodging available near the staging area?
5. Is there fuel available or do we need to bring our own?
6. How far is the site from the staging area?
7. What method of transportation for materials?
8. What method of transportation for crew. (This might seem obvious but if you are barging your materials to Western Alaska; it is doubtful that you will want your crew travelling on the barge.
9. If you are going overland in Winter; What are the trail conditions? Is there any open water or overflow to be concerned about? Do you have to cross any private property? Is the trail wide enough?
10. Is there room at the site for storage of materials?
11. If you are flying materials you may have to provide crew to load and unload.
12. Is there a good landing spot at the building site? How far from the landing site to the building site. (This is very important) What method of transport from the landing site to the building site? Is there legal access from the landing site?(we have faced this before where there was no legal access to the building site from the airport).
13. If you are flying materials on floats; Is the water deep enough to taxi to the shore? Is there any protection from the wind? We have landed in water so shallow that we had to unload the Otter in the middle of the lake onto a raft; push it to shore and unload, then carry the material 100 yards through the swamp to the building site. On this project the transport was almost as much as the construction.
14. If you are flying materials on Skiis; Do you have a way to pack an airstrip for the plane? Most pilots flying heavy loads will want a packed strip, that means a snowmachine or snowshoes.(Lots of snowshoes)
15. If you are hauling by boat; is there somewhere safe to park your truck and trailer? Are there launch fees? Do you have to wait on tides?

These are just a few considerations to make before estimating costs on a remote project. Once you know the conditions, you use experience to figure the costs. More to come in Part II

"I don't like that man. I must get to know him better"Abraham Lincoln

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