Preconstruction services can be utilized in varying degrees depending on the Owner’s desire for contractor participation . Utilization of preconstruction services is also limited by the timing of when the contractor is brought in during the design process. We firmly believe that the Owner should take full advantage of the opportunity for immediate contractor input. The benefits will be realized in time and cost savings. The following is a preconstruction service plan identifying potential areas for contractor involvement.
It is necessary for the Owner, architect and contractor to understand each other’s motivations, expectations and project requirements. An initial meeting should be conducted to discuss these issues. If the design and estimating teams are not in synch with each other throughout the entire preconstruction process, there will be budget problems.
Budget and schedule goals should be established as early as possible. Having the Owner share its detailed budget, identifying hard and soft construction costs, is essential for the team to be able to design to the budget. Scheduling the preconstruction activities will allow all parties to plan around outside commitments and afford the project the highest priority.
A preliminary estimate should be performed at the very early stages of design to determine the cost is relative to the budget. Scope definition will likely involve the team performing site surveys to determine both the typical scope of work that needs to be done to each building as well as identifying building specific work items.
Another estimate and constructability study should be performed during the design development phase. This will be critical to ensure that the project is still within budget prior to completing the construction documents. At this phase, continuous value engineering will be performed so that the Owner will get the best value for its money.
A bid package strategy will need to be developed and agreed upon early in the design process as it may affect the format and/or organization of the bid documents. The strategy will need to take into account the estimated value of the packages and the phasing as well as other project factors to achieve maximum cost and administrative efficiency benefit.
Marpac’s project team will develop the bid packages simultaneous to the completion of the design documents and will submit the bid package documents to the team for review prior to publishing. We will follow any housing authority or funder requirements, if any, for bid solicitation and opening.
When all bidding documents have been completed, reviewed, and approved we will perform the final cost estimate. This will be used to establish the guaranteed maximum contract price. Heavy emphasis will be placed on subcontractor and supplier bid solicitation. Multiple bids will be received for each category of work and will be carefully analyzed for completeness. Competitive subcontractor pricing will be an important factor in maximizing the benefit of each dollar spent.
The keys to cost control during preconstruction are: 1) accurate cost estimating and 2) keeping the design within the budget assumptions as the design develops .
At Marpac, the entire project management staff also estimates. We believe that this dual role keeps our people sharp. By necessity our project managers are not only intimately aware of the going rate of construction, but they know which subcontractors and suppliers are performing well and which to stay away from. This makes them better estimators and results in more accurate, responsible cost estimating.
Communication between the estimating and design team is critical to cost control. Intensive effort is required at the commencement of preconstruction to establish a clear understanding of the scope of work, materials, level of quality, and other design constraints even before much of the design has been drafted. Review throughout design development is necessary to ensure that the design stays consistent with the initial estimate assumptions. If the design and estimating teams are not in synch with each other throughout the entire preconstruction process, there will be budget problems.
The key to cost control during construction is minimizing change orders . At Marpac we achieve this through:
- Thorough Bidding and Construction Documents: The project team invests the time and effort during preconstruction to accurately and completely communicate the project through the documents so that everyone participating – from Owner to Architect to Contractor to Subcontractor/ Supplier – knows exactly what is expected of them. We consider it our job to work with the Architect during preconstruction to identify and resolve design problems before they become construction problems. We do this through continuous plan review and comment.
- Communication: Internally, we depend on our ability to communicate through scheduling, thorough subcontract writing, and the submittal process to increase the level of communication and reduce change orders.
- Relationships: Inevitably, there will be something that gets by the project team. When this happens, we rely on our relationships with our subcontractors and suppliers to minimize the impact of changed or undefined conditions.
During the course of our first estimate we will provide a list of areas to look into for cost savings. Value engineering is a service that we will provide continually throughout preconstruction and during construction. Whether or not the project is over budget we will always suggest the practical and cost effective solution.
In the event an estimate indicates that the project is over budget, we will identify and price cost cutting ideas. In these situations our main objective is to identify cost saving items that have minimal impact on design or use.
Should additional cost cutting be required, we would propose a value engineering workshop. This workshop would be a brainstorming session that would include our key personnel, selected subcontractors, architect and engineers, and an Owner’s representative. We have found this type of team approach to value engineering to be very effective.
Constructability is integrally related to scheduling, cost control, quality, and safety. Marpac’s project team will continually review the design documents with a focus on each of these areas. Is the design conducive to establishing a construction flow for ease of scheduling? Are there design flaws or omissions that could result in future change orders? Do the specified materials and details help or hinder achieving a high level of quality? Does the design present any concerns for safe implementation? These are the types of questions and issues we will raise in our constructability review.