General Contracting

general contracting in pa

Understand the benefits of a single point of contact in construction

The Design-Build project delivery system is growing in popularity in America. This unique construction process provides a one-stop shop for those entering a new project. It integrates both the design components and construction into one seamless operation with a single point of contact throughout every phase of the project.

Outside of the benefits of a single point of contact working with you, is the collaborative nature of the entire team working on the project. The designer and construction manager work together to ensure the project is on schedule, budget and in scope rather than having multiple companies working as a decentralized team.  Moreover, the benefits to the owner of the construction project are immense.

  • one company is accountable for the entire process
  • faster project delivery
  • costs are known in advance
  • cost savings through value engineering
  • reduced risks due to only dealing with one firm
  • higher project quality
  • reduced owner burden because you are just managing one company

Regardless of the type of project delivery method Galbraith is involved with, our story rings true with every customer: “…highly collaborative process that’s built on trust, teamwork, innovation and creative problem-solving.”

I have to agree with the statement made by Stephanie Anderson, Co-Founder & Executive Vice President at Creative Business Interiors, “When challenges are encountered during construction, brainstorming and creative problem-solving often involve the owner’s team as active participants, giving them the opportunity to ask questions and consider options. Everyone works together to develop innovative, adaptable solutions while avoiding excuses and blame-shifting that might otherwise occur.”

Our operational model at Galbraith is that of a design-build. We deliver the same results of the design-build delivery system, a team-management approach to all of our projects. Whether working directly for an owner or working with an owner’s design team, we work together to provide the best possible scenario for the end user. And because the majority of our projects are highly complex, it is even more critical to possess these traits. This proves that adopting a design-build model as a general contractor can indeed happen successfully.

General Contracting

general construction

Using pencil and paper construction planning in a tech-savvy world

In the midst of today’s modern and tech-savvy world, it’s incredibly refreshing to go “old school” at the start of a building vision. I enjoy going back to my roots, sketching and making shop drawings. I crafted the drawing below with nothing but an old-fashioned pencil, pen, ruler, piece of paper, and, most importantly, a vision. To me, this encompasses what a drawing is. A drawing, quite simply put, is someone’s vision that has been translated onto a piece of paper—preferably by the hands of the visionary.

A builder with creative vision can translate things in his mind before even putting them to paper. He or she can see an idea, further develop it within their mind, then bring it to life with their hands by putting pen or pencil to paper and beginning to draw before they even start to build. To do this, passion and creativity have to be in your blood. That is what translates a vision from the mind to the hands.

Throughout my middle school and high school careers, I also worked—proudly—as a draftsman for my father’s construction company. Because of my experience, my high school drafting class teacher permitted me to leave school in order to walk to my father’s office to work (this was rather unheard of during these days—prior to today’s traditional co-op and work experience opportunities.)

During the summers and over school holidays, I also served as a construction laborer, furthering my experience and knowledge and further pursuing my passion. I walked straight from school to job sites, hoping “the guys” would still be there so that I could learn more. If they weren’t there, I’d walk through the job site anyway, continuing to learn and dream about projects…then I’d walk to my father’s office.

Today, tapping into hand sketches takes me right back to those days of learning. As I get older I sometimes make the argument that these drawings are still faster than waiting for a CAD drawing file to be sent and shared, only to later have technology problems opening a file or having an email get lost in cyberspace. Whether these problems occur or not, it’s undeniable that a pencil-to-paper sketch contains more heart than any CAD-produced mock-up.

The heart in it is what makes it refreshing. A CAD file just can’t be in your blood the way that a hand sketch can. Likewise, a mouse will just never fit the hand the way a pencil does. I take pride in holding on to this “old school” passion, and in using it to put extra heart into the work I do for my clients.

Food Processing

frozen food industry

Don’t worry; things aren’t cooling off that much for frozen desserts.

According to the latest report from Dairy Foods, frozen dessert sales are falling, including the king of frozen desserts – ice cream. The crowded marketplace, competition, changes in consumer preferences and the healthier focus consumers are looking for in their favorite ice cream has made it difficult for some in the refrigerated and frozen food marketplace. However, according to a June 2018 report from the Freedonia Group, Ice Cream & Frozen Desserts: United States,”  U.S. demand for ice cream and frozen desserts is forecast to total 7.6 billion pounds in 2022.

This doesn’t seem like it’s a slowing market segment to me. In fact, I’m seeing an increase in product and shipping with our numerous frozen dessert processors and distributors that I work with, contradicting these reports, at least for my customers.

So what does the future hold for the refrigerated and frozen food industry?

Innovation will be a crucial ingredient to the success of some frozen dessert processors and distributors moving forward.


Innovation for the frozen food market can mean many things from new product introductions, on-demand ordering or new go-to-market strategies. At Galbraith, we pride ourselves in assisting frozen dessert facilities to increase capacity, make their facilities flow more efficiently, plan for growth, and troubleshoot problems.

In many cases, we will work with an owner’s engineer and design team to verify field conditions to stave off conflicts and problems before they arise, as well as offer pre-emptive suggestions on how to resolve an issue. We can do this due to our decades of experience in the cold storage and food processing industry. Owners and their design teams appreciate our collaborative mindset and the fact that we look out for everyone’s best interests. We enjoy brainstorming with a team, learning new methods and materials, as well as providing our input as well.

Moral of this story is that innovation can come in many forms. In this case for some of our frozen food customers, they are looking at innovation as a way to make their processes better and more efficient to combat the changing landscape of the food industry.

General Contracting

building for churches

Simple steps to smart building for churches and religious organizations

When considering the construction of your church or religious organization, it is important to think seriously about all aspects of design and construction. A quality contractor will be tuned into the mission and ideologies of your facility, and will help you work to properly reflect them within your walls.

As you understand well, it is the people who truly make up a religious organization. Your members likely work to better their surrounding community on a daily basis, which is why one of the most important considerations in choosing the right contractor for a project is that contractor’s involvement in and ties to the surrounding community. Securing a contractor who lives in your community, understands the people there and who is genuinely interested in your project’s success can make an incredible difference.

church constructionThe buildings that house religious organizations vary vastly in shape, size and features. They are made of all different sorts of materials. With so many options, it can be hard to know where to start when you begin to plan. After finding a contractor who truly has their finger on the pulse of your specific needs, it is important to keep a few factors in mind.

  1. AVOID DESIGN FADS – Just as clothing styles change over the years, so do elements of architecture and design. There are some amazing and incredible churches across the world, but don’t get hung up on fitting that mold. A church or religious organization should offer a more classic and timeless style, as the building should be able to be used for generations to come. Rather than following trends that come and go, look into designs that make sense for your facility’s long-term plan.
  2. FORESEE THE FUTURE – Plan architectural elements that make sense as your facility changes and grows. Consider the current needs of your members as well as those that may develop in the future. Is your town growing? Does your community focus surround helping to feed those in need? If so, consider building an on-site commercial kitchen. Not only does this help you to attain specific goals, it also makes your building more versatile. Not sure if this is right for your facility? Check out these kitchen tips from Church Executive.
  3. BLUEPRINT FOR GROWTH – Over time, your religious organization will likely (and hopefully) gain new members and experience growth. If you plan the construction of your facility with this growth in mind, you can create a building that is more easily expandable.
  4. FOCUS ON YOUR VISION – Clearly define the vision you have for your building, taking into consideration all needs and purposes your facility must meet and serve. Take a moment to get your vision in writing. This gives you the opportunity to make changes as you need, to share your vision with a professional and to keep your eyes on the bigger picture.
  5. BREAKDOWN YOUR BUDGET – As you plan your vision and you consider the future, don’t forget to plan a budget. Consider all aspects of building costs; not just brick and mortar but also furniture, appliances and fixtures. Work with your contractor to avoid creating unforeseen and unnecessary financial stress when building gets underway.

To a quality contractor, your project should never be considered “just another” job. At Galbraith, we enjoy playing a crucial role in our hometown and surrounding communities, and in planning and building places of worship that will serve our friends, families and fellow residents for years to come by making a lasting impression on the lives of many.

To begin planning—or just to ask a few questions—reach out today. We’d love to hear from you.




General Contracting

fire safe building

How metal construction provides added value when building a fire-resistance structure.


A fire-resistance building can save lives. Constructing a metal building can further help reduce structure flammability and can provide up to a four-hour rating on walls. However, this doesn’t make a building fireproof. High temperatures can still damage metal, especially when it’s unprotected.

Richard Rinka at the American Architectural Manufacturers Association (AAMA) was recently featured in Metal Construction News stated,  “In terms of fire resistance, remember redundancy provides safer construction. Additionally, automatic warning and detection systems are a critical factor in limiting fire spread, and loss of life and property. They should always be a part of any fire-protection plan.”

There are several mistakes that can happen when constructing a fire-resistance building that can be mitigated when using a design/build firm:

  1. Not selecting the proper firestop system for the application.
  2. Not following the requirements of a listed and tested system.
  3. Poor job-site conditions that do not meet the stated range of a tested system
  4. Adhesion issues due to improper cleaning substrate
  5. Incorrect annular space
  6. Not meeting minimum depth of fill material
  7. Improper backing materials
  8. Improper use/installation of mineral wool

Mitigating Risks

One, of many, advantages of utilizing a design/build construction firm is having an experienced team in place from the very beginning who understands the various codes and regulations when it comes to fire resistance and fire suppression. A design/build team works with the client/building owner from the start to determine building use, occupancy type, number of employees, etc and then formulates a comprehensive plan for building design and construction that will best suit the building type, use, location, budget, etc.

However, the team approach should not end after the pre-design (or pre-construction) and design phases. It should continue through the material buy-out, construction, and final completion and occupancy. Which fire resistant material or coating is the most practical? What site conditions allow for which fireproofing method? Which supplier will provide undamaged materials? What has worked in the past with success? All of these answers come from years of experience and expertise by both office and field personnel.

At Galbraith Pre-Design, Inc., we use generations of knowledge and experience to continue to solve the ever-growing number of regulations and life safety codes.

General Contracting

design build tips

5 ways hiring a design-build firm will help you in your next project

An integrated firm has all departments under the same roof. This means that each of these teams are constantly working together, which provides more experience as well as increased communication skills. Working with an integrated design and construction firm will boost overall plant efficiency. Here are five tips that you should consider.

1. Integrate process equipment design and layout with the overall design of the building


The success of a project is determined mostly by looking at the planning stage of the project. This is where the scope and layout of the project are determined. The best way to create that success is to consider putting the design, build, and engineering teams together. This will maximize square footage and provide the most efficient manufacturing job. The goal with your footprint is to maximize product output and deliver the most ROI possible. A smaller footprint means lower construction costs.

2. Get your architect and builder working together early in the project


The reason for this is to manage costs and expectations. A good architect will do an analysis that will lay out your facility in the most cost-effective way possible. The builder is the one that carries the knowledge of costs. Since the builder has this knowledge, having the builder work with the architect will provide the most functional building project for you without having to worry about ridiculous costs.

3. Consider design-build


According to the Design-Build Institute of America, design-build projects tend to be 33.5% faster than design-bid-build projects. Design-build projects have endless benefits, including the following:

  • Better quality
  • Less risk
  • Follow food safety regulations
  • Reasonable scope and budget
  • Faster construction schedule
  • Strong subcontractor relationships

4. Be aware of industry regulations

Being aware of these regulations from the beginning of the project to the end will allow for the project to get done quicker and with fewer problems. The key is to choose a reliable team to work on your project. This is where design-build would be great because, as stated above, they tend to be the best at following these regulations.

5. Design for the future

When designing, it’s important to ask yourself a set of questions that will, in return, set the bar for the remainder of the project. Asking yourself “what happens if my business grows again” and “what will we do if we double our lines in 5-10 years”, will assist you in planning out your future through this project.



Food Processing

hiring a design-build firm

How to hire the right design-build firm – ensuring a successful project.


When it comes to a project, the designing and constructing phases require exceptional communication to be successful. You may think that the communication aspect is out of your control, but that’s not the case. It starts with you. How? Because who you hire matters.

Working with an integrated firm is one of the best ways to ensure that communication is kept adequate. With an integrated firm, every person working on the project is working for the same company. For example, the mechanical and electrical departments are working hand-in-hand with each other, and have in the past as well. Due to this pre-existing relationship, they know how to successfully work together to get the job done and have direct communication with each other. If you choose to work with multiple companies instead, it’s not hard to lose that strong communication. Here are three ways that working with an integrated design-build firm can improve the food safety of your next manufacturing facility.

Design and construction teams are highly coordinated


This coordination goes along with communication. Overlooking even the smallest of problems during a project can result in a huge recall. Since they are continuously working together and can talk through any issues they may have along the way, it’s easier for them to complete a project with fewer issues than others would.

Piping and the food safety risk of condensation


In the food industry, there are many projects that have to do with piping. With piping, many teams need to get involved including mechanical, structural, architectural, electrical, and more. This is where an integrated firm would be beneficial to a project. The construction team and the rest of the staff have regular internal design reviews which would keep everyone involved on the same page. Since these teams are always working together, there is a certain level of comfort there that makes everyone feel that they can speak up, which creates more opportunity for collaboration and success.

Troubleshooting is focused on problem-solving, not finger pointing


If there is a problem during a build, regardless of which department is responsible, the issue can and will be quickly resolved. Integrated firms use a checks and balances approach so that each department is aware of what the other departments are doing. This prevents potential hazards that may go unnoticed if not working with an integrated firm.

Food Processing, General Contracting

construction worker

Construction tips for efficiency in the food and beverage industry

Like any other industry, the food and beverage industry has its positives and negatives. They are faced with different issues daily and then take on the task of solving them in the most efficient way possible. There are two huge threats to the food/beverage industry with their construction budgets: misaligned project scope and underestimating commissioning requirements.

Every part of the project is important, regardless of the impact, or lack of impact, that you may think the particular piece will affect the overall outcome. It’s vital to make rules and expectations for everyone in on the project before actually starting the design phase. This way everyone is on the same page which will assist in a smoother process. Without defining the project scope, it’s possible to run into the issue of not being able to decipher wants and needs. This can cause budget inflation and extend the time spent on the project. To get everyone on the team on the same page, ask yourselves some of the following questions:

  • What does our client want from us with this project (output, cost, length of project)?
  • What assumptions are the foundation of the design solution?
  • What are the key performance indicators?
  • How will we measure success?

A fully integrated firm has all project teams working together. The benefit of this is that everyone knows what their job is and how to work with each other. Some of these teams would include architecture, mechanical, electrical, and construction. For example, one of the most significant budget risks in a project involved infrastructure costs to support packaging and equipment. In an integrated firm, the processing and packaging employees are working right next to each other, which increases communication, making this part of the project more manageable. Working with a fully integrated firm would give you the upper-hand in this situation. Having this type of structure during the project allows for controlled costs. Having a detailed, well-planned project scope leads to more efficient project completion.

Another issue that’s problematic for the construction budget is underestimating commissioning requirements. Some owners are blind to the fact that they are disregarding many costs when getting started with a project. Mostly looking at equipment costs, they tend to forget about the startup and training costs. Without factoring in these costs, it’s easy to go over the estimated budget, which could cause many more problems within the project. While you have to pay attention to costs before equipment, you also have to be aware of costs after equipment. Some questions to ask yourself in this step to determine how the budget will sway include:

  • How will you inspect the equipment?
  • How will you schedule tests runs for the equipment?
  • What are necessary training protocols for operations and maintenance?
  • How will you ensure that you hit throughput levels?

There are a plethora of issues that can occur during a project, specifically with the budget and projected time on the project, but these two seem to happen the most. By following the tips provided, you will make the construction process less stressful and more successful.



General Contracting, Roofing Repair

standing metal roof repair

Hiring an Experienced Metal Building Contractor for Metal Roof Repair

When a standing seam metal roof is in need of repair, there is a good chance that the roof is part of a pre-engineered metal building system.  The roof panels are not merely a roof, but part of the metal building system.  Within that system, the roof panels play several different roles – weather tightness, bracing, diaphragm, structural, etc; and where the roof ties into the building system at roof steps, eaves, gables, etc. there are critical details which must be maintained in order to ensure weather tightness and the integrity of the building envelope remains intact.

Sometimes when leaks occur, the first thing a building owner thinks to do is to call a roofing contractor, because after all, he has a roof problem, right?  But that owner has more than just a roof – he has a building system.  Therefore, it is critical to call a contractor with metal building system experience.  That may be the general contractor who built the building and self-performs the majority of the project, like Galbraith.  It may be a metal building erector.  Or it could be a roofing contractor.  Each one should be upfront and honest about whether or not they have the expertise and experience to work on different types of building systems and roofs.  A professional contractor of any type should admit their strengths and weaknesses, and recommend that an owner call a specialist if the project is outside of that contractor’s area of expertise.  Or better yet, have a network of trusted specialists to recommend to owners!  In any event, the owner’s best interest should come first.

Galbraith recently inspected a 47 year-old metal building system with chronic roof leak issues.  We discovered previous roof repairs using rubber.  On the surface, everything appeared watertight (ugly, but watertight).  However, upon inspection in a steady rain, it became apparent that the rubber patches were actually collecting an trapping water underneath them.  They weren’t watertight after all.

No doubt that these patches made by a roofer were inexpensive, so what’s the harm?

Take a look at the hidden rust found underneath the patches as well as on the underside of the roof panels.  The roof panels are rusting out from the bottom.  Those inexpensive patches are proving not to be so inexpensive.

We made new, professional repairs, using our years of experience and expertise with metal building systems and specialized materials, tools, and equipment.  These repairs are a short-term solution.  However, the damage is already done and irreparable.

This building has several roof steps and flashing conditions.  Who would you trust to install a new roof? Luckily for us, we are going to get the business.  But we could have saved the owner a lot of time and money had we been called first!

View More Galbraith Pre-Design Testimonials

Food Processing

food processing

Understanding a general contractors role in food safety and prevention.


This article titled, ‘Pest Control’s Critical Role in Food Safety’ from Food Processing Magazine does a good job of outlining the importance of pest control in food process facilities. Naturally, food safety is compromised when rodents, insects, birds, etc. enter or infest a food processing facility; and the thought is not appealing to anyone.  However, it is a real concern given the fact that the facility has food, warmth, and shelter – everything pests need to survive. It’s important that food processing facilities focus on pest control prevention rather than reaction. Ultimately though things happen and if there is an infestation, you must react as early as it’s detected. Once detected working with a qualified, food-certified contractor to help remedy the situation.

This is where a certified contractor is worth its weight in gold. General contractors and design-build firms that have certifications in Safe Quality Food (SQF) by the Safe Quality Food Institute and Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) by SGS, as well as versed and experienced in the requirements of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), offer the best option for food process facilities to ensure the environment remains uncontaminated. Both the SQF and HACCP certifications increase contractors brief of understanding of food safety and prevention issues as it’s associated with working in a food processing facilities. These certifications help circumvent issues that might arise if a contractor doesn’t have this same knowledge.

At Galbraith Pre-Design we know what to look for when it comes to pest control, and we know how to fix and prevent deficiencies based on our vast knowledge and certifications in food safety.  We always conduct walk-through inspections of food and beverage facilities, looking for pest control issues where they relate to building infrastructure.  As outlined in this article, top hot spots for rodents are lines (wires, pipes, beams), places that have shadows, warm spots and quiet or voided areas of a facility. When we work with clients if the facility already has a pest control report provided to them by their pest control provider we work with clients to fix the deficiencies noted.

When Galbraith Pre-Design conducts a facility walk-through we look for items such as missing or deteriorated door seals, improperly operating doors, cracks in walls, cracks in floors, damaged window screens, improperly operating windows, roof penetrations, louvers, and vents; the list is endless.  If we find any of these items, we note the deficiencies, providing us and our clients with the knowledge of how to the correct the problem with a permanent solution.

You can call on us, like many food process facilities do, to conduct preventative inspections and make preventative repairs.  After all, is the risk of rodent and pest problems really worth it?