Beyond the Build

Tips from the Field

When It Comes to Civil, Never Make Assumptions

One of my favorite things about the way our company operates is that we have a healthy mix of one-of-a-kind builds vs repeat relationship customers who we follow across the Southeast, Midwest, Atlantic and western states, and at times, the Northeast. Each of these locations comes with a new set of site conditions, entitlements to learn, and folks to get along with during our stay.

While the vertical construction is typically similar, there are differences according to code and live load, and of course, all sites are different. We’ve learned to pay attention to these nuances the hard way over four decades, and we have a few scars to prove it. The bottom line is that one should never make assumptions. 

Our knowledge of the product and our customer relationship helps offset the challenges we face with sites. We also could not build as effectively in all these different states without the great civil management team we have at the company. There is no substitute for understanding the soils. Let me say it louder for the folks in the back: There is no substitute for understanding the soils, and they are all so different. The civil aspect of a job is one that can get you in trouble in a hurry, so we always urge our customers to let us get involved early and be a part of the team. After all, two heads are better than one, and there is only once chance to get a project off on the right foot.

Merrill Stewart Jr.

Merrill Stewart is Founder and CEO of The Stewart/Perry Company, a commercial building contractor based in Birmingham.