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The Values of Pre-Construction Planning.

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Building a dream house, a new office complex, or setting up your own retail store. These are wonderful opportunities but they can also be scary times. Many people go through this process only to come out on the other side thinking “I will never do that again!”. That doesn’t have to be the case. In fact, we’ve completed many projects having made great life-long friends who continue to call us up for renovations, expansions, and additional projects. It’s actually where we get most of our work.

So, how do we ensure everyone ends up with smiles when we hand over the keys and do the final walk-through? We do the best we can to prepare, plan, and communicate at every step of the process.

Accurate and Complete Designs

You have an idea of what your new building should look like. It makes sense to contact someone who will draw it for you and articulate that vision to the many folks who will play a role in its construction. That’s a great place to start, but don’t be too antsy to get that design work started. Make sure you have a contractor who understands the design process along for that part of the journey. It may cost a little more to have them in those early conversations but it will save a lot of money and even more time in the long run. When these teams work together in the beginning, all of the remaining steps of the construction process are easier. Even if you end up selecting a different contractor after the design process is complete, their expertise in the design phase will ensure a more accurate picture of the construction of your dream building.

Comparative Construction Bids

Once you have the visuals and plans on paper, you can bid out the work. You’ll need contractors for the clearing, concrete, construction, electrical, plumbing, painting, and all the other finishing pieces like flooring, cabinets, counters, etc. It’s possible to bid these all separately and try to manage them yourself, but you’ll enjoy the process a lot more, and have a greater chance of staying on time and budget if you work with a single partner who has tried and true relationships in these areas. They’ll also be able to communicate with you along the way to show where budgets may be bulging and where you have some extra room to play. This master contractor will also have a superintendent to ensure safety is always at the top of the list, that your build site is organized, and that all contractors are scheduled to maintain adherence to your ideal timeline.

When comparing bids, it’s difficult to know if you’re comparing apples to apples. There are a lot of details and moving parts that can be bulked together in the estimating phase. If your architect and contractor successfully detailed the design and also defined the brands, grades, and other details of the project, your bids and timelines should be rather close, making mark-ups, fees, and wages more clear.

Minimized Change Orders

Big projects come with big decisions. It’s best to think through as many obstacles and options prior to the construction phase as possible. When a contractor, client, and architect work closely together in the early stages of planning, the detailed questions get asked and answered, mitigating most of the risks, and drastically reducing the need to change course during the construction and finish-out phases.

American City & County, a magazine that has supported state and local governments since 1909 said this on the value of architect and contractor pre-planning.  “With the traditional method, an architect/engineer is hired and completes the design, then the procurement and construction are competitively bid and awarded based on the lowest bid. Because these steps are sequential, the entire process takes more time than design-build, which allows the procurement of equipment or phases of construction to begin before the entire design is complete. Costs are reduced not only because schedules are shorter, but also because certain precautions and redundancies, taken when a designer has to assume that a low-bid contractor will build the facility, become unnecessary when the designer and contractor collaborate on a project.”

An Enjoyable Ride

When a construction project is properly planned from the beginning, it may take a little longer to move through the design phase, but all phases from that point forward run more smoothly, making the process predictable and exciting. Proper planning establishes a relationship between the architect, builder, and client that allows for ongoing communication, calculable expenses, and a well-prepared team. All of this adds up to a project that is on-time, and on-budget. The final words that bring a smile to everyone’s face.