By Kristian Cichon, ME, BE, Director of Acquisitions
Construction and development has time and time again proven to be an unpredictable environment. That is especially evident in today’s climate amidst the rollercoaster of material and labor costs, shifting demand of assets and challenges navigating political landscapes.
For any novice or even seasoned property owner, this provides an extra layer of challenges when it comes to development. A proactive solution for owners to mitigate risk and explore additional value is to secure a strong Construction Manager. ‘CMs’ perform on behalf of an owner rather than in a competitive relationship as is more frequently seen from a General Contractor. Instead, the CM jumps on in the pre-construction phase assisting with the design and planning phase.
There have been many studies done about the design process throughout the years, and they all continue to arrive at a similar conclusion: The decisions made at the early stages of the design process have the most impact on the success of the project. This is true not only with respect to satisfying the program needs, but also in terms of establishing a project’s budget and schedule as well. Given this understanding, the role of the Construction Manager during the pre-construction or design phase cannot be overemphasized.
During the pre-construction phase, an Owner can expect their Construction Manager to provide recommendations that will enable the Owner to make the best design decisions possible. In this role, the Owner can rely on the Construction Manager to provide input about the project with respect to:
- Estimates of the cost of construction
- Estimates of comparative costs for different systems (i.e. structural frame, HVAC, exterior skin, roofing, etc.)
- Alternatives to materials, systems and design approach
- Schedules for design and construction
- Develop value engineering alternatives to design
- Estimates of permitting times and requirements
- Recommendations for material and equipment selections
- Price checks on the design as it progresses to ensure it stays within the budget
- Recommendations for subcontractors and the bidding process
There are, of course, a variety of other issues which the Construction Manager will focus on during the pre-construction phase as well, but those listed are necessary to the Owner’s and Architect’s decision-making process. With both accurate and timely input from the Construction Manager, the Owner is best positioned to make good decisions and therefore is able to maximize the use of their construction dollar.
Upon the start of the work, Construction Management contracts, unlike any other type of delivery method, are exceptionally good at providing a means to allow flexibility for an Owner during the development of a facility. Because CM contracts align the objectives of the Construction Manager with those of the Owner, they in fact create the resources necessary to respond to an Ownerʹs needs throughout the process. The collateral costs and challenges faced with Owner-directed changes during both the design and construction process can be met with contract-defined processes to manage the changes. Because changes do not provide a means for the Construction Manager to enhance his fee, they can be dealt with in an open book fashion jointly with the Owner and Construction Manager.
Pre-construction and Management services create value early and set the tone for the remainder of the project by offering a strategy to accommodate for challenges before they occur and prevent setbacks that are the result of the disconnect between the concept, design and building phases. A strong Construction Manager will control the design and build process, allowing them to bring the concept to life while simultaneously value engineering within the owner’s budget and scheduling goals.
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