Want to build a building?
First, hire an architect to design it.
Then send the plans out for bids, and then hire the low bid contractor to build it.
That’s the conventional design-bid-build process, and while you can still find devotees to that tradition, it just doesn’t speak to an assortment of questions and challenges.
Soil conditions, labor and materials costs, budget constraints, scheduling necessities, compliance questions and many other considerations all can have a huge effect on the identity and extent of a construction project. And not plodding through these and other issues upfront jeopardizes positive outcomes. That’s why more and more owners are planning ahead with a qualified, multidisciplinary preconstruction team with the commitment of delivering informed decision-making and doing away with unpleasant surprises.
You see, in spite of the fact that the build phase typically receives the most attention from construction firms, a project’s success is frequently resolved well before the first shovel full of dirt is attempted. As a prime example, preconstruction is where construction companies can best pinpoint prospects to boost margins.
Consider the facts: In the Journal of Construction Engineering and Management, researchers observed that the sheet metal contractors who stuck to a deliberate and comprehensive preconstruction process gained an average profit margin of 23 percent, whereas projects that were badly planned saw an average profit margin of -3 percent.
A smooth-sailing construction project hinges on a precise plan and clear-cut, succinct communication from the get-go. By getting project partners on board in advance and building a sturdy foundation in the course of preconstruction, all participants can better steer clear of a calamity down the road. The time and energy devoted to creating a detailed and calculated preconstruction framework will unlock the rewards of boosting the efficiency of a project and aiding crews in dodging any postponements during the build phase.
The preconstruction phase of a project is embedded with cooperation, transparency and communication. It’s also where you promote relationships, set objectives and, of course, make money. That said, it can correspondingly be the phase most laden with hazards.
However, by adhering to a set of tried-and-true best practices and arming yourself with the correct tools for the job, you can sidestep miscommunications, secure more proposals and keep clients cheerful.
Why preconstruction planning is essential
Complete pre-planning and scheduling are crucial to the success of a construction project. True, the size of the contract impacts the time needed to complete planning, it does not affect the need for a plan. For the greatest success, company management must commit the essential resources to realize all planning well before the beginning of actual construction whenever and wherever possible.
The Millennium Bridge in London was perhaps one of the most iconic construction projects of the 2000s. But only two days after its opening, the bridge had to be shut down after pedestrians on the bridge underwent a disquieting sway from side to side.
The issue was that designers had not taken into consideration just how considerably the bridge would quiver as pedestrians traversed across it, of the “synchronous lateral excitation.” In other words, the inherent sway of motion of people hiking across the bridge triggered sideways oscillations in the bridge, which in succession saw people on the bridge begin to sway in step, increasing the volume of the bridge oscillations and constantly supporting the effect.
It was a blunder that took plenty of additional funds and eight months to resolve. And the landmark bridge is still identified as the “wobbly bridge” today.
Such construction projects hinge on numerous details determined throughout the planning stage. But, as you can readily see, mistakes can be made in advance of any actual construction that can impact the project down the line, costing time, funds and incalculable stress.
It’s quite obvious: Preconstruction is crucial as it allows the contractor to better understand the scope of the work. Scope of work is a document that summarizes the duties of the contractor. These tasks are grounded in detailed factors such as targets, deliverables and the finished product.
Other advantages of preconstruction include the following.
Project budget. Part of the preconstruction phase is forming a preliminary budget. This budget is something the contractor will produce based on their familiarity, the client’s wants and needs and the present market conditions. In many cases, the budget will involve cost-saving substitute designs and materials.
At this stage, you’ll pretty much know if the project is feasible or not.
Project team. One of the essential features of the preconstruction phase is putting together the project team. The team is crucial because your construction project simply cannot launch without them. It’s also at this stage that the general contractor will have to send bids to engage subcontractors.
There can be significant value in these relationships, as gathering a crew takes time. Allowing these subcontractors to know in advance keeps the process focused and offers the contractor some accustomed names to call upon. It also offers the contractor sufficient time to pre-qualify their subcontractors, helping to ensure they aren’t triggering costly headaches for the client.
Required materials. When it concerns materials, there isn’t any time to squander. The preconstruction stage helps pin down the materials, providing the client enough time to select some backup alternatives and the contractor sufficient time to acquire financing and order the materials, so subcontractors aren’t sitting around, waiting for them to arrive.
This part of preconstruction might appear rather trivial, but the potential savings of time and money down the road are anything but.
Permit and inspections. The time for performing inspections and pulling required permits is in this preconstruction phase. Inspecting the site to carry out environmental tests and surveys helps make sure the project is realistic and that some agency won’t shut it down. Similarly, waiting patiently for building permits when subcontractors are now on-site can cause a costly slip-up. Pulling those permits as soon as the drawings are complete is essential.
Jobsite productivity. You can boost productivity with better materials and tools, logistics, enriched verbal and written communication and improved relationships with contractors and subcontractors. Productivity will increase dramatically on the current project and will become consistent between projects.
Established communication. Perhaps the most vital piece of the preconstruction phase is setting up successful lines of communication among the contractor, designer, client and the remainder of the project team.
This segment demands input from various sources, compelling the concerned parties to communicate to work in the direction of a common goal.
The preconstruction process defined
Okay, it’s time to put all this talk about preconstruction planning into action. Here, we’ve pinpointed the steps to help you enhance your preconstruction process and set your upcoming projects up for success.
- Audit your current preconstruction process. First, it’s important to do some soul searching to audit your present preconstruction process and uncover weak spots. Perhaps you even now have a clear-cut process ready, but not everyone is employing it successfully. Or maybe your company doesn’t have an established preconstruction process and you have to begin from scratch.
Either way, it’s critical to get an overall picture of your preconstruction process as it subsists today so you can decide how to best enhance it for the future. When auditing today’s process, ask yourself:
- Does my preconstruction team operate in silos, both internally and throughout each department?
- Is our project information saved in various systems? Can other teams retrieve it without difficulty?
- Do we squander time and energy on manual work and data entry?
- Howe frequently do we fail to meet deadlines?
- What recent errors might have been prevented with improved planning?
Talk to your team and oversee retrospectives of current projects: where might things have gone better? Most notably, be candid about where your process could use some upgrading, then pinpoint actionable plans that speak to those concerns.
- Promote beneficial key stakeholder relations. The preconstruction excursion isn’t something you can navigate alone. Whether you’re assessing budgets with owners or assigning duties to subcontractors, you have to be able to work together and problem-solve with every team member. In order to do so, it’s important to promote beneficial work relationships.
By getting all concerned on board and aligned with goals, you’ll reduce unforeseen obstacles and better prepare your team for the unavoidable pivots they’ll have to make.
- Establish a single source of truth. Throughout the preconstruction stage, information and data remains siloed (confined in binders, spreadsheets or email) which implies information distribution gets deferred, if it occurs at all. This disconnect means project partners function based on various versions of reality, employing whatever information they just might have access to, apart from whether it’s unfinished, erroneous or both.
- Identify the correct collaboration tools. One of the best ways to position a construction project for success is to get every project stakeholder on the same page from the get-go. For general contractors, this means selecting the correct digital platforms from estimating, bid management and qualifying vendors. For subcontractors, this says move to a cloud-based bid board where every team member and office can track bids during the complete preconstruction process.
Today, construction organizations require systems that facilitate successful collaboration among departments and remove any silos across offices. After all, effective collaboration reinforces relationships both internally and externally. It allows all participants to bring their know-how to the table, make the best doable business judgments and sidestep the most risk.
- Automate, consolidate and digitize. There is a certain amount of anxiety that automation will abolish certain jobs in the preconstruction sector. But the truth is, it sets free teams to tackle more work and to allot more time to essential projects. If your team is still using up hours manually gathering and revising data, welcome technology that does it for you. Automation also cuts costs, eliminates logjams, and enables stakeholders to make smarter choices.
A good number of preconstruction teams are employing a variety of disorganized technology – Microsoft Excel, Google Workplace, Smartsheets – you name it. The more locations you’re squirrelling data and information, the more the possibility of making a serious error. When you stockpile everything in one place, you’ll not only enhance efficiency, but you’ll reduce mistakes.
In a remote-working environment, it’s also crucial to leverage the capacity of cloud-based preconstruction platforms as much as doable. If, for example, you’re even now faxing documents and printing proposals, those who require that information most may not be able to retrieve it. Make sure your information and data are securely available at any time, from anywhere.
- Create trust and boost relationships. No matter if you’re the owner, general contractor or subcontractor, preconstruction is the best occasion to promote positive working relationships that are deep-rooted in trust and communication. It’s the ideal instance for every project partner to line up with and support each other.
Successful communication starts with getting ahold of the right contacts at the right time and persists with communicating in real-time regarding the twists and turns that, as you might expect, will happen during the life cycle of a project. Trust is simply a natural incentive for genuine communication – it’s reinforced when you pay particular attention to the relationships that matter the most.
Maybe PDDM Solutions can help!
If you’re planning a construction project and have not yet put together a preconstruction plan, don’t hesitate to give us a call. We have the specialists necessary to help you formulate a preconstruction plan that will put your impending project on the road to success.