Communication. Integration. Knowledge. You could say these attributes are in their DNA.
That’s why DnA Controlled Inspections, Ltd. (DnA) has become one of the premier firms in New York, having worked on many of the most high-profile and multifaceted projects in the city since 2010 – from landmarks such as Rockefeller Center, the Empire State Building, Hudson Yards, all the way to buildouts for tech giants like Google and Facebook, their portfolio of iconic NYC statements continue to grow.
As a full-service engineering consulting firm, the team’s dedication to client service and engagement in proactive communication to streamline inspections and ensure construction enables them to stay on schedule, and develop long-standing relations.
A Holistic View of Each Project
One of DnA’s points of differentiation is how they value and engage employees, says Director Alexis Schlessingerman. “Our investment in staff development allows us to offer clients, tenured inspectors, with multiple certifications; they are well-versed in the process as a whole and can streamline inspections with a single visit,” he says.
That’s important, explains Steven Montana, a senior field engineer with DnA. “These various inspections intertwine and should be looked at as a whole. If a company only sends someone who understands the fire systems but isn’t well-versed in the whole scope, it can delay a project.”
For example, Frank Barrett, a structural field engineer with DnA, who has been working with construction materials since 1997, is familiar with building stages from the ground up. Like many others on the DnA team, his Master of Special Inspections combined with years of active job site experience showcases that the team is well versed, certified in the necessary multiple disciplines including structural welding, structural steel and bolting, structural masonry and reinforced concrete, ensuring a partnership with a reliable and trustworthy stakeholder.
Whereas another firm’s inspector might only be capable of assessing a single aspect of a site, DnA’s team can offer a holistic view of progress and what is needed to advance, helping steer the project in the right direction toward sign-off. This approach cultivates confidence from their clients who trust DnA to look at the full picture and move each job through the critical phases.
“We have a personal commitment to stay on schedule and get it done.”
But even more importantly, they ensure the job is done right. Barrett recalls a time he was preparing to apply fireproofing spray when he realized some of the mechanical aspects hadn’t yet been done. “I held off until the time was right, whereas another firm could have just sent a fireproofing person who wouldn’t have been looking at other parts of the job, and might have proceeded. That means in this case, they would have had to scrape the fireproofing off and start over because the bolting hadn’t been done.”
It’s one example of how DnA is equipped to provide a layer of construction management in addition to inspections, says Montana. “It can be easy to put off inspections until the last minute so we try to manage the process proactively to help maintain the timeline. One of the biggest headaches in any job is scheduling, and when they fall behind, it has a ripple effect on the whole project.”
That’s why DnA makes sure to liaise with the client and contractor to stay ahead of the schedule and note issues that need to be addressed prior to the official inspection to ensure the project stays on track.
One recent high-profile project was the Hudson Yards complex, where they handled inspections for core-and-shell plus 60 restaurants and shops that were all opening simultaneously. “Because we have such a deep background with work for many towers, we are adept at predicting how long corrective measures will take,” says Montana. “We understand there is a lot of money on the line.”
Communication Ensures Success
In any big job, there are numerous stakeholders and managing the project to stay on schedule requires extensive communication. “While some clients are more hands-on than others, no one wants to be in the dark,” says Schlessingerman. DnA ensures that’s never the case by starting with a dedicated project manager, then using an online tracking system that keeps them ahead of the curve.
For many projects, they’ll hold biweekly meetings with the general contractor and related subcontractors to stay apprised of what needs to be done and when as they work toward earning the Temporary Certificate of Occupancy (TCO). The goal is to be transparent, says Montana. “From the contractor to the design team, we want to address issues as they arise, rather than when we are nearing the completion date.”
“My primary function is to ensure the momentum doesn’t stop when we encounter a problem. I am on hand to facilitate a solution right away,” says Barrett, adding that this is particularly easy for the DnA team to accomplish given that it’s a smaller company where everyone knows everyone.
“We teach all our new team members that when something comes up, we take ownership immediately and find a solution. We don’t say ‘that’s not my job’ or try to cover up problems and work around them.”
Barrett says he’s observed job sites in the past where there might be 10 different people bouncing in and out, but no one had clear ownership so issues were easily ignored. “Since we don’t have multiple people in the mix, we can get resolutions to problems so our clients know we have signed off with confidence.”
That includes making sure any pending concerns are accurately described. “Sometimes reports don’t translate well because it’s hard to explain some issues in words so we make sure to provide a full set of drawings that have any deficiencies marked with pictures and arrows – whatever’s necessary to make it easy to understand at a glance,” says Montana.
The DnA Difference
“‘We get it done,’ is the philosophy that DnA Inspections brings to every one of its jobs,” says Schlessingerman.
“Our goal is to offer what our founder calls ‘quiet happiness.’ We want to be proactive in checking the site frequently so that nothing falls behind,” adds Montana.
“We are adding value through our expertise, which means we save our clients money by helping them adhere to the timeline,” says Barrett. Because, after all, in the construction game, time is money.