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Municipalities are growing! How to keep up with infrastructure.

Ladies and gentlemen, we have a problem. With expanding populations and new businesses moving in, municipalities are running out of space. With municipalities growing rapidly, infrastructure needs to grow along with them. A new building or remodeled facility may be necessary to accommodate the demand that is straining existing facilities. Unfortunately, that is not always easy or affordable to do.


Department of Public Works buildings are typically only built through referendum meaning the project is reliant on voters to approve the budget. In addition, municipalities are often given one chance when constructing a new facility, so it is imperative to get it right the first time around. If you do not and end up losing public trust, you risk not gaining approval on future endeavors.


There are a few things you need to consider to effectively meet your capacity needs. And the good news is, there are options to keep costs relatively low beyond simple decisions like using fewer paint colors and choosing to go with a more industrial look with exposed mechanicals that can make it easier to do maintenance.


1. Update facilities to represent the current workforce

2. Keep things low maintenance

3. Use high-quality products


Represent the current workforce

Many local government buildings are outdated. Having been built at a time when men dominated the workforce, necessities like bathrooms and locker rooms were not created to accommodate women. The Department of Public Works is currently made up of a diverse set of workers, men and women alike, and their facilities should reflect that. This is simply not a subject you can ignore when upgrading facilities.


Keep things low maintenance

When deciding features for a new building or remodeled facility, consider the cost of maintenance at every turn. To keep costs down, you want to lean on features that will be reasonably priced in the short and long term. And remember, reasonably priced does not have to mean cheap. For example, polished concrete floors are more affordable than carpeting or floating floors. They are also easier to maintain and do not have to be power scrubbed, stripped or waxed. Not only are you saving money in construction, but your long-term cleaning budget will also be lower.


Use high-quality products

Unlike the example of polished concrete floors, it may be a better option to invest in more expensive options for other features that can help facilities last twice as long compared to their cheaper counterparts. Some examples of features you may want to splurge on include:


· Roofing

· Insulation

· Windows

· Exterior doors


Upgrading in these areas, while costing more initially, will keep energy costs down over time. Take a dual-heating system as a brief example. Your main heating system could be infrared but in particularly cold weather, an air handler could kick in. This will increase energy efficiency, reducing overall cost.


It is not only important to select your products wisely. Remember that there are also different installation techniques that can add to your cost as well. Work closely with your contractor to identify where something might be over designed and determine if there is a more cost-effective approach to fit your budget.


Beneficial updates you can make in a remodel

Are you in a position where you do not have to consider new construction, but rather want to make updates to current facilities? There are certain areas you can focus on upgrading that will offer considerable benefits.


· Replacing antiquated boilers

· Updating heating, plumbing or electric infrastructure

· Upgrading lighting systems

· Replacing inefficient motors

· Adding employee fitness centers

· Making cosmetic updates


Many of these upgrades can be made using a maintenance budget already in place. And while some energy upgrades may necessitate a heftier budget to be voted on, it is relatively easy to justify the cost to taxpayers when the payback in savings will come just a few years down the road.


Uh oh – we have to talk about this

Are you tired of hearing about COVID-19? Sorry, but when there has been such a disruption to the supply chain, it is impossible not to bring it up. Whether you are looking at new construction, remodeling an existing facility or making other updates, project timelines are severely impacted by the supply chain issue. With frequent delays and high demand, the cost of products has increased. And the last thing you want is to start your project and then let it sit untouched for months while you wait for materials to come in. Be aware of this very real issue and work with your contractor before starting construction to decide what timeline will best work with material deliveries.


Municipalities are growing, and the infrastructure needs to keep up. Sure, adding new buildings or making necessary updates to existing facilities is not the easiest thing to do especially when the budget is reliant on voter approval. But paying close attention to the needs of the current workforce and choosing features and products that are low maintenance but of high quality can fulfill capacity needs while being cost-effective over time. Taking this approach can ensure you are executing your project right the first time around.


To help you through this process, get an experienced contractor like Scherrer Construction on board early. We can help you identify the right materials and installation techniques that will fit your budget and long-term goals. And while there is no escaping the supply chain obstacle at the current moment, our expertise can often lead to quicker turnaround times. Call us at (262) 539-3100. We would love to talk through your options.


A photo of the new Twin Lakes Village Hall in December 2021, our most recent completed municipal project.

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