Preconstruction-phase services by Hight Construction:

  • Provide detailed cost estimating and knowledge of marketplace conditions.

  • Provide value-engineering input and cost savings ideas as the DD documents are developed. Provide alternate systems evaluation and constructability reviews/studies.

  • Provide preliminary project construction planning and scheduling.

  • Provide for construction phasing and manpower logistics to help minimize interruption to client operations.

  • Advise client of ways to gain efficiencies in project delivery, including phased construction elements.

  • Provide long-lead procurement studies and initiate procurement of critical path items.

  • Assist in preliminary construction review & zoning/permitting processes.

  • Participate with the Client to employ good faith solicitation efforts in regard to local and disadvantaged business enterprise (DBE) participation and assist in the implementation of local and DBE strategies and goals.

  • As bidding phase develops, select and vet subcontractors and suppliers for the project. Services required from subcontractors will be procured through NDDOT-approved public advertisement and competitive bid selection processes. Client may influence the selection of the subcontractors as allowed and if it so wishes, particularly in respect to Client's past-experience with a subcontractor or (perhaps even) regarding a current legal dispute with a subcontractor or supplier.

  • Periodically apply an ‘overall value versus price’ check evaluation to insure the effort isn’t straying off its originally intended path in both constructability and budget.

  • Assist design team in establishing a priority/timeline for bringing in independent professional architectural, engineering and consulting firms to maximize the design development (DD) phase.

  • Assist the design team in developing a communication plan with action items, milestones and target demographics in preparation for the upcoming solicitation/bid phase.

  • Develop preliminary construction schedules based on the DD documents showing completion dates, phasing options and critical path concerns.

  • Assist with (when appropriate or requested) marketing and promotional materials such as PP presentations, speaking programs, news drafts, renderings/graphics, newsletters/updates, and even social media campaigns. Whatever you need, Hight is here to help!


Background: The Pre-Referendum Process

The citizens of North Dakota are privileged to enjoy some of the best schools and most dedicated teaching professionals in the world. But it didn’t get to be that way by accident. You see, we also live in a democracy where the decision to fund building and expansion projects for learning institutions can live or die in the ability of the local school advocates to convince the surrounding community that the proposed endeavor has real, tangible merit.

 And this can be tricky. In North Dakota (and common throughout the Midwest), local school boards are allowed to vote on funding increases of up to $300 per student. Generally speaking, anything beyond that amount is required by law to be put forth among the electorate for vote. This is commonly referred to as referendum – and lays the path for securing the appropriate project funds through taxation, levies, issuance of bonds, or any other community-rendered financial conveyance vehicle. In theory, referendums can be used to fund any proposed educational capital expense such as new school buildings, expansion of old or existing facilities (these are often referred to as ‘brick and mortar’ projects) and even operational expenses such as curriculum programming or salaries/wages for teachers or school support staff. And as justifiable as these expenses can seem to people working within the educational system, the issue often isn’t as black and white to the public at large.


How Hight Can Help

As a continuing part of our growth, Hight Construction now offers pre-referendum services in North Dakota as part of our Construction Management Services package. With this new addition, we hope to complement our current construction management effort and provide even better assistance to our school district clients in order to assure they achieve their overall visions and goals. And in order for these visions to come to pass, the voting community must understand the need in a manner that motivates them to pledge tax dollars toward the project or effort. But before that need can be expressed, it’s paramount that the need itself is properly defined and communicated. And that is where we can help. As part of our Pre-Referendum Services Package, Hight Construction will work alongside your board members, school staff and community representatives during these critical phases of the referendum process:


Phase 1: Identifying and Defining Need

This initial phase may arguably be the most important. Just as the foundation is critical for a building, the more work, planning and detail that does into the clearly identifying and defining school district needs can save countless hours of reassessment (and even possible re-design) down the road. Here are just a few tips that may help to establish a solid foundation for your up-coming referendum:


  • What are our initial limitations? Are we out to address all of our immediate needs or just target a particular element? Think of this time as ‘brain-storming’.

  • What are the long-range implications of our actions? Does this solution make sense for the future?

  • Do we want to solicit community input from the very beginning? Via community survey or other advertised method?

  • As you create your list, periodically apply an ‘overall feasibility check’ to insure the effort isn’t straying off its originally intended path.

  • Begin forming a ‘hierarchy of need’. This may prove beneficial later on when budgets start rolling in and economic realities are faced.

  • As the effort matures, break the project down into working modules, facilitate committees and set tasks with the goal of further delineating and defining the overall plan for moving forward.

  • Remain vigilant and cognizant of the effect your plan is having on important issues such as student capacity, security (for both staff & students), administration effectiveness, future enrollment/population growth, maintenance logistics, future special learning programs, and flexibility (both in facilities and learning).

  • Once the preliminary needs assessment is complete, establish a timeline for bringing in either 1) a Construction Management (CM) firm (who may in turn provide design services as part of their package) or independent professional architectural, engineering and consulting companies that will form the design team and implement the design development (DD) phase. Hight Construction is structured to work either with your chosen design team or (should you wish) provide you with complete architectural/engineering services as part of our CM package via our own in-house design department.

  • Create a formal recommendation to submit to the local school board and administrators. Once locally approved, the recommendation may then be forwarded on (if applicable) to the state Department of Education (DOE) for review and comment. This local/state review process can sometimes take many months so patience and attention must be employed to stay on point and maintain enthusiasm and momentum.

  • At this point, Hight Construction can be assisting A/E (if we’re not already doing the A/E in-house) in the development of conceptual drawings and specifications, all the while providing preliminary cost estimates to insure the project doesn’t veer away from overall guiding budgets.


Phase 2: Design Development & Referendum Implementation:

Once the DOE has approved the plan, the formal design/development phase begins in earnest. It’s also time to start planning for the pending referendum and establishing a GMP (guaranteed maximum price) ceiling for the project. Here’s where Hight Construction professionals can assist you with:

  • Developing a communication plan with action items, milestones and target demographics in preparation for the upcoming referendum.

  • Helping to solicit and earn support from local administration, teachers, staff, students and the surrounding community – even local and area political figures.

  • Helping to form a community steering committee to foster and oversee the referendum campaign (perhaps from committees and offices you already have in place).

  • Preparing and conducting a community survey outlining the overall plan and offering highlights. The goal is to engage the public from the very beginning.

  • With initial public sentiment in hand, helping to develop a formal message and campaign strategy to take to the public. Communication here is vital; good communication even more so. It’s not uncommon for voters to go into a referendum with their minds already made up, so it falls incumbent on the project advocates to sell the idea to their electorate … and sales is a very different world than administration. From beginning to end, particular attention must be placed on the manner in which your message is communicated to the public.

  • Prepare timelines and assist your staff with developing venues to further explain the issue and its impact. Formulate tangible plans to engage the community and foster ownership of the concept onto the people in the community.

  • Hight Construction continues to provide value-engineering input and cost savings ideas as the DD documents are finalized. Hight provides a ‘checks & balances’ system to assure the design team doesn’t veer too off course during design (and our experience has shown us that this happens a lot!).

  • Hight Construction develops preliminary construction schedules based on the DD documents showing completion dates, phasing options and critical path concerns.

  • Having already delivered conceptual budgeting throughout the pre-construction phase, Hight Construction continues to work with the design team to deliver a Guaranteed Maximum Price (GMP) for the project. This GMP is a critical element because it will likely remain the cost benchmark – and the only number that much of the public remembers - until the end of the referendum effort.

  • Finally, assist with marketing and promotional materials such as PP presentations, speaking programs, news drafts, renderings/graphics, newsletters/updates, direct-mail pieces and even social media campaigns. Whatever you need, Hight Construction is here to help!




In a nutshell, a feasibility study (FS) is an analysis of the viability of an idea. It is a tool decision makers employ to help them better answer the question, ‘may we now move ahead intelligently with our proposed idea’? Now as you might imagine, feasibility studies are used in a variety of applications spanning a multitude of disciplines, so for clarity – and so we’re all on the same page moving forward – we’ll be discussing the feasibility study as it pertains to commercial building design and construction.



Commercial building projects - by their very nature - can be expensive, prolonged and sometimes stressful undertakings. They’re generally not something you want to do longer than you must. But there is way to make the process less painful. By incorporating simple, common-sense due-diligence very early in the process – in the form of a feasibility study - the prospective building client can form a far more complete and circumspect vision of whether the endeavor in question is both viable and necessary … and potentially save themselves and the people they represent substantial and costly mistakes and revisions down the road.



The activities addressed in your FS will generally result from the scope of work being considered and may often include ancillary or peripheral elements that could possibly hinder or otherwise affect that scope of work. For example, if the scope of work being considered including adding an additional floor to your building, the FS would almost certainly include a structural analysis of the existing structural elements leading up to that addition such as soils, footings, foundations and supporting members. We will also provide you with a timeline for the FS and (if appropriate) budget estimates to assist you in making more informed decisions regarding your project.


First off, you should be far enough along with your own internal planning to make the best use of a feasibility study. You’ll want to have a clearly defined goals in mind (even if the details aren’t yet worked out) and have a sound vision of what it is you wish to achieve with your proposed project. Is your goal to update your building to current codes and ADA standards – or are your goals more aesthetic? What about the electrical? Is it finally time to replace that antiquated heating system? All of these are potential considerations to be weighed when compiling your FS list of needs. But there’s more. What you’ll often find is that many of the items up for consideration will naturally fall into two disparate groups:

  1.  Items requiring more in depth study than you’re able to provide and …

  2.  Items that can be researched/resolved with a few phone calls using your own resources


Obviously, those items ending up in category 1 are likely the best candidates for your FS. Then all you need to do is convey that list to Hight Construction and we’ll take it from there. After some research (this part is all no charge), we’ll work up a feasibility study cost proposal custom tailored to your list and deliver that to you in writing. Then, barring any changes to the proposal (which we are always happy to assist you with), it’s just a matter returning the signed agreement that will accompany the proposal and we’ll get started.



The cost of a feasibility study can vary greatly depending on the depth and breadth of the study. An intricate, in-depth study of a multi-story professional building including mechanical and electrical – requiring many man-hours and consultants - will obviously be more expensive than an aesthetic renovation on a single story structure. That’s why Hight will custom tailor a cost proposal for your feasibility study based upon your individual needs and will not proceed with any work until you completely understand and have approved the work.



Once you’re presented with the completed FS, you can begin discussing the conclusions of the study with your own building/business team members in order to review and judge the impact our findings will ultimately have on the viability of your project. With this new information in hand, you should now be far better prepared to create an organized ‘hierarchy of need’ that will allow you (based on your budget numbers) to prioritize and weigh the items on your wish list to help better assess if a particular item is something to include right away … or possibly hold off until later. Once the FS process is complete, you’re ready to take the next step into the actual design and construction of your project. We’ll cover that in the next section.