More often than not cost overruns and construction delays are the result of no one “minding the store” during pre-construction. It is during this time that poor choices are made, and cost and construction problems get designed into the project. Our job is to prevent this from happening and to ensure that the final set of construction documents represents a quality, efficient, affordable design that meets the owner’s needs.
One of the first things we do on a project is to review the owner’s initial building program to gain a full understanding of the project requirements and objectives. Once we have that understanding, we work with the project team to determine the project’s feasibility, financial and otherwise.
During planning we help define the project, weigh options, and make good choices. Making smart decisions early on provides benefits, not just for the duration of the project, but for the long-term life of the building.
if site selection is a requirement, we can provide valuable assistance by determining the cost impact of various site characteristics on the cost of construction. This information can be used as a valuable tool not only for comparing sites during the selection process, but also for negotiating a more favorable purchase price.
Early on we develop the overall master schedule showing important milestone dates for decision points, document completion, bidding, contract award, construction duration, and building occupancy. This lets the project team know where we’re going and exactly how they fit in.
Using documents and narratives prepared by the architect, which define the general scope of the project, we prepare the initial conceptual estimate to determine whether the project budget is adequate for the desired scope of work. If not, we can determine the proper budget or assist with adjusting the scope of the project.
Accurate estimates are crucial to the success of any project. In addition to establishing the budget, they determine the cost of alternative building systems and materials, and confirm fair pricing for subcontractor bids and change orders.
Our estimates are prepared in-house, which enables us to track changes from one estimate to the next and more effectively control costs. We always have a basis for our pricing so everyone knows just what is and isn’t included. Trouble is never far behind when you hear the words “Oh, I thought that was included.”
Because the quality of work produced in the field is largely dependent on the quality of the construction documents, we work closely with the design team to monitor the drawings for clarity, completeness, and ease of construction. Not only does this prevent costly delays and change orders once construction starts, it also keeps mistakes and corrective work to a minimum, which means better overall workmanship.
Effective cost control is one of our most important contributions to a project and is the main reason owners hire us. We continually monitor the design as it is being developed for cost, content, and constructability and look for ways to make it more efficient and less costly. If the budget ever appears to be in jeopardy, we immediately advise the project team and make recommendations to get costs back in line.
Value engineering is about engineering value into the project and optimizing the design—right from the start. Working jointly with the architect during design, we review proposed materials and systems, identify possible waste and inefficiencies, and propose more efficient, less costly alternatives, all while maintaining the architect’s original design intent.
Life-cycle costing involves evaluating the cost of proposed materials and systems, not in terms of initial cost, but in terms of life-cycle cost (initial cost + operating cost + replacement cost). Spending additional money during construction, but receiving substantial pay backs in the form of greater durability, lower operating costs, or energy rebates, can be a smart investment if the construction budget allows.
If the project involves working on or around an occupied site, we develop a site logistics plan that defines and lays out all site support activities. This plan is used for coordinating workflow and the movement of equipment and materials to maintain safety, security, and separation; facilitate ease of construction; and minimize disruption.