Big-time planning goes into Scheels project

2013-02-17T00:00:00Z 2013-10-16T17:00:06Z Big-time planning goes into Scheels projectBy JAN FALSTAD jfalstad@billingsgazette.com The Billings Gazette

Anyone who has tackled a do-it-yourself remodel has tasted the challenges of keeping a project on schedule and on budget.

So how do the pros manage a $40 million, two-year, five-phase construction project like the 220,000-square-foot Scheels store in west Billings?

Project manager Tobin “Toby” Basta of Q&D Construction uses numerous software programs and works six months in advance to stay on top of everything.

“We do a tremendous amount with planning and building schedules,” he said. “You make it happen upfront.”

Most of the surprises are simple communication mix-ups, he said.

Basta uses a sort of construction industry Facebook to communicate with as many as 35 subcontractors who are marshaling 200 to 300 workers.

“It emails all the subcontractors when anything changes,” he said. “All parties are looking at the same documents and deadlines.”

The architect, R.L. Engebretson of Fargo, N.D., provides hundreds of pages of architectural drawings, the changes marked in red ink.

“This is the master plan. This is the gospel,” Basta said, thumbing through a sheaf of oversized plans.

More than two-dozen three-ring notebooks are filled with countless details ranging from footings and foundations, to how to hang an airplane from the ceiling.

“The key is just breaking it down into small pieces,” he said.

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