We will try to answer this question based on the following example, which took place at our foreign customer. While Agro-Projects was responsible for designing a mushroom farm as well as delivering materials and equipment, a local in-country contractor was hired to build the facility. When Agro-Projects’ expert came for the first time to the construction site, he saw that building foundation was laid crookedly. The local company did not recognize the problem. We told the Investor that builders need to destroy the foundation and lay it again. Otherwise, they would have to change the height of growing rooms, doors, because as result the ordered sandwich panels will not fit to the new parameters - the whole project will change. Making a new foundation required a few additional weeks - and obviously extra costs.
Bigger or smaller mistakes can always happen and that’s usually where that 30% of waisted work comes in. Remember, in the mushroom industry, you are able to grow mushrooms and sell them within 6 weeks, so the time is extremely valuable.
The biggest mistakes you can make while building a facility
Agro-Projects’ supervisors have built more than 80 production facilities on different continents during the past seven years. Most of them consist of: mushroom farms, compost yards and cold stores. Thanks to our long and wide experience, we were able to point out seven most often time-wasting mistakes on the construction phase that will slow down the work on a facility.
1. The lack of general constructor’s supervision
There is a big difference between building a mushroom farm, turkey farm and cold storage – each industry has its own specifications. The entire mushroom farm construction project (including supervision) should be done from top to bottom by a contractor, who has the necessary knowledge about mushroom production technology and have built number of such facilities before.
Otherwise, there will be a waste of time caused by many misunderstandings, for instance: difficulties with reading the project plan, downtimes, wrong sequencing, lack of background knowledge about what the final facility should look like. A supervision by a general engineer without previous mushroom industry experience is never a good idea, if an Investor wants a fast and efficient construction.
2. Poor coordination of deliveries
It is crucial to control deliveries – what materials and equipment should come by what dates. The distance, time for search for transport, estimated time of customs clearance, even holidays in the supplier’s country and the country you deliver to itself – should be taken into consideration.
Delayed deliveries are the reason why most constructions have to shut down their work for a while. There are situations where work has to be stopped for 2 weeks because of a small detail such as steel spacers. In our case, there is no room for such mistakes, thanks to experienced professionals, however, if someone has never built a mushroom farm before, he will most likely come across these difficulties.
3. Incorrect sequence of processes
If we know that the project is to be completed within 6 months in Belarus, we have to take into account the fact that in this country the installation of electrical and gas connections and boiler houses takes quite a long time. This means that we should start working on it at the same time as we start working on the foundations, in order to put the building into use by the pre-agreed date.
The above example is an actual situation that Agro-Projects had to face and learn from. Even though the construction of the facility was finished, the boiler room had not yet been commissioned yet which caused a 3-month delay. This is why a correct sequence is so important.
4. Last minute project changes
What is the most important thing while building a facility? The answer is – Investor`s consciousness
Agro-Projects is experienced in making many changes to mushroom and cold storage projects during the construction phase. However, you should predict issues that can occur. One time a construction was delayed because of sewage system. After the project and documentations had been approved and the building process started – we realized that the sewage cannot be thrown in that direction, according to the surrounding of the facility. The project was forced to be changed.
For example – after construction has begun, it may turn out that a building that was originally intended to be one-story must be two-story, according to new needs. Of course, this is possible, but such changes significantly increase the implementation time and cost much more.
If you don’t have the experience or time to make arrangements on your own, a more reasonable decision would be to hire a contractor to take care of everything.
5. Lack of awareness about market rates and quality standards
To quickly find a local construction contractor, as well as a local material supplier, you need to know the average market price and quality standards. For example, the process of growing mushrooms involves two processes – It is important to purchase long-lasting, adaptable materials. For example, in one of the growing rooms, peat-covered compost is loaded onto growing mats which are then pulled up onto a growing shelving. In this situation, the outside gates are open, so the air from the outside gets inside and in wintertime the temperature in the room can be approx. -3 degrees Celsius. In the other room, the steaming process takes place (after the full cultivation cycle is completed) and the temperature is as high as 75 degrees for at least 12 hours. If these processes occur in the growing rooms closest to each other, the sandwich panels must cope with the temperature difference. There are many aspects to consider when buying such a product, you need to study the number of parameters, and then draw appropriate conclusions. Of course, that happens much faster if a general contractor who has all the expertise is hired.
6. “Unfinished homework” for local research
In the U.S. there are different electricity standards than we have in Europe, which means that different lamps are needed. In Belarus there is much lower assortment of steel profiles comparing to Western Europe. Most countries have their differences. That means the project should be adapted to a local reality. If your general contractor that builds mushroom farms has not did his research properly – the building stage may last for ages by fixing everything on the run. Or the mistakes can become visible once the facility is finished.
7. Disregarding essencial requirements of the construction code
Ignoring building codes will never be a good move, because most often, failure to follow the requirements will result in the building not being able to be commissioned. Most usual mistakes are linked to fire regulations. The building should be divided into specific zones to get an occupancy permit. If there was no office planned, and it was attached using sandwich panels during building process – it may not be accepted because there must be a completely different office evacuation zone included in the project. An investor needs to realize that some things must be done according to the technical requirements – to avoid time and money expenses at the end of a building process.