Have you ever wondered what goes into a construction job apart from the construction itself? It often takes months of planning, analysis, and preparation before construction can begin; even then, several problems may arise during the course of the project itself. Hence, arises the need for pre-construction services.
Pre-construction services are pivotal components of modern construction jobs that lay the foundation for a successful construction project. But, what are they? Please read this article to find out everything you need to know about pre-construction services and how they set up any project for success.
What Are Pre-Construction Services?
As the name suggests, pre-construction services – or more commonly known as ‘pre-con’ services – encompass a wide range of tasks that need to be executed before the first brick can be laid. These services aim to resolve potential challenges a project might face, minimize costs and risks, identify areas of improvement, and form a detailed layout to tackle all the impending project’s unknowns.
From strategic planning to designing to estimating budgets to allocating resources and labor – and everything in between, pre-construction services form the first step towards a smooth and efficient construction process. This helps construction teams and project managers to meet all the client’s requirements by developing the blueprint for a functionally-viable, yet financially-feasible construction undertaking.
What is the Pre-Construction Phase?
Often termed as the planning stage, the pre-construction phase of the construction process is where contractors work closely with clients to carefully craft a realistic budget and timeline and design a plan that will form the basis of the construction process ahead.
This critical phase in the life of a project involves guiding clients through the project, procuring permits, engaging in logistical planning, and developing viable strategies that are geared towards creating a project that exceeds all expectations.
The Need for Pre-construction Services
This might seem hard to believe, but pre-construction services are just as vital and critical to the success of the undertaking as to the actual construction process itself. They help to analyze, plan, organize, and coordinate a project from its inception to its fruition. If the project is well-designed and meticulously planned, not only will it save you a lot of money by determining the best use of your resources, but it will also ensure that the construction process is streamlined smoothly without any obstacles.
Construction jobs can be complex that may affect several people – from owners to workers to even the general public. This is why a lot of in-depth detailing and planning goes into it before the ground is broken in order to achieve intended results and avoid unwanted mishaps.
A good contractor will always work in tandem with his clients and address any concerns they might have. When clients spend so much of their money on a project, they expect to receive maximum returns on their investment. This is where pre-construction services come into play.
These services provide valuable insights that smoothen the road to the completion of your project and provide a step-by-step roadmap that enlightens the client with an intricate cost analysis, schedule, and framework that gives him or her a clear picture of what their project will look like. This puts the clients at ease and reassures them that their project is in good hands and that you are making the most out of their investment.
What Do Pre-Construction Services Offer?
The pre-construction process offers a long list of services. Although these services are not typically considered part of the actual construction process, they are key elements of almost every modern construction undertaking. Here are a few common pre-construction services offered by most construction management companies and contractors.
Many projects are not built from the ground up but instead involve renovations or additions to existing structures. For such projects, construction managers collaborate with engineers to analyze and assess existing building space conditions and ascertain the construction job’s specific requirements. This helps avoid costly problems contractors may face later or once construction begins. Such a venture involves an assessment of the building’s structural integrity, the current state of plumbing, electrical, HVAC, and an extensive range of other systems to determine if they are sufficient for the project or if any updates need to be made.
An Overall Project Evaluation
Clients and contractors sit down to bridge the gap between the client’s vision and the implementation of their idea. At this point in the pre-construction phase, the client defines the needs and expectations of the project. By the end of this stage, a framework is developed to illustrate every party’s project. This helps construction managers define the overall project’s scope and determine the finishing requirements – whatever they may need to accomplish their objectives, find ways to maximize efficiency and identify possible issues.
The contractors can also look over the schematics to conduct an examination of the feasibility of the project, which would end up saving the client thousands of dollars.
Due diligent inspections of the site of the project are used to make sure that the site is suitable for construction and has the necessary infrastructure for the project. This ensures that the location selected for the project meets the needs and guidelines set out.
This crucial phase in the pre-construction process is where an initial schematic design is developed to give the client their first look at what their project will look like. Advanced engineering processes and 3D rendering software programs are utilized to build designs that simulate the project’s entire lifecycle. Since this is an initial design only, contractors can use it to gain valuable feedback from clients on the road to a finalized design.
Giving the client the unique ability to visualize their project from a constructability perspective can be a valuable tool for landing a bid for a job and can also define areas of difficulty and how to overcome them.
Preliminary Budget Determination
Another frequently-offered pre-construction service is creating a preliminary construction budget, which can estimate the costs that may incur based on the project evaluations and assessments.
A reliable initial cost estimate will greatly help discuss finances with potential investors and secure funding sources for the project. It can also help identify possible cost-saving alternatives. Creating a reliable budget is a solid first step towards the development of a construction project plan.
Forming a practical and achievable timeline from start to finish allows contractors to create a helpful action plan and identify areas that may cause delays in the project’s deadline. This can be used to overcome problem areas and track the project’s progress once construction actually begins.
The work that needs to be done during construction is broken down into several milestones that are expected to be achieved by the timeline’s specific dates. Although the schedule is not set in stone, it helps lay out lead times, set out clear priorities, and ascertain the sequence of the construction process.
Getting the necessary approvals and permits for the construction of your designs can be an arduous task, where you have to approach several governmental authorities that might or might not approve the project after reviewing it.
This task becomes easy when you acquire pre-construction services from a construction management company that takes over this cumbersome job from you. Most companies also offer to procure the services of utility companies such as electricity, gas, water, etcetera through legal means.
Risk Analysis and Safety Planning
Any construction project has a number of risks associated with it that require the implementation of safety measures, especially where construction may affect the public.
Thus, pre-construction planning involves pre-construction risk assessment (PCRA), ensuring all regulations are followed and all materials comply with regular safety standards. The purpose of this step is to avoid future litigation costs and unwanted accidents. Pre-construction services involve creating safety plans that enforce safety protocols and procedures to reduce working hazards and to ensure a safe working environment for the construction workers.
During pre-construction, architects and design-focused teams identify systems and infrastructures that need a specific course of action and devise the best plans to deliver more at a reduced cost. Many clients believe that value engineering aims to reduce cost at the expense of quality. However, this is not the case.
The objective of value engineering is to weigh out all possible alternatives and make certain system modifications and value-added breakdowns that promote savings without compromising on quality engineering. Evaluating where the money is being wasted and redirecting those funds to other areas of the project can enhance the overall project design and budget.
Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) planning through healthy work environments and efficient and responsible operations can significantly reduce the project’s carbon footprint and environmental impact while ensuring sustainability.
LEED certifications that are globally recognized also give construction projects a competitive advantage above others.
Prior to the building process’s commencement, contractors need to form a checklist of all the necessary equipment and materials required for the job. This can be used to ensure that all the materials meet the unique needs of every specific project.
Procuring materials isn’t as simple as a trip to the farmer’s market. It requires a complex understanding of market prices in order to ensure the acquisition of the most cost-effective building materials. Then, all the necessary materials need to be ordered, assembled, and staged in order to complete this pre-construction process. Considerations are also made for long-lead items that may cause potential delays in the construction schedule.
1– Development of Reports
Developing regular reports at different time intervals is crucial to keeping the client up-to-date with the project and ensures that the entire team is on the same page. These reports keep an entire record of the project and may include cash flow projections, monthly project status reports, revision logs, meeting minutes, and variance reports.
2- Bid Packaging
Everyone involved in the project needs to have the necessary expertise and knowledge of the project to complete it. Using all the pre-construction planning data, a detailed report of the project is given to the subcontractor who secures the bid after thorough interviews are conducted with several qualified candidates.
Cost of Pre-Construction Services
The cost of pre-construction services depends on a number of factors – such as the size and scope of the project, the number of services involved, and the location, but will typically not be a major expense. These services will generally end up costing you approximately only 1-3% of the project’s total cost and has to be paid before a bid for the actual construction is handed out. However, this minimal investment will pay for itself when it saves the client a large sum of money by means of cost control in the pre-construction planning process.
Benefits of Pre-Construction Services
Pre-construction services primarily help avoid unexpected problems during projects. Most importantly, they help save a lot of time and money by streamlining the process and forming a budgetary proposal. They ensure the most efficacious use of the client’s time and financial resources without any wastage and provide the client and the team with a broad view that helps to envision the final outcome.
Along with comprehensive reports and schematics, pre-con services give clients the luxury of a representative to guide and educate them throughout the course of the project, making them feel at ease about spending their money. It also bridges the communication gap between the client and the contractor and also the contractor and his team by offering clarity in the form of a clear idea for everyone to follow.
The Bottom Line
The best construction projects start with smart planning. This helps clients feel confident about what is to come and promises reliability – which is ultimately what the client truly wants. These services also equip contractors with a broad understanding of the risks involved and all the insights they need to make informed decisions regarding the project. Understanding that pre-construction services are at the crux of an ideal construction project is what sets construction companies apart from the rest. When considering which contractor to choose, be sure to ask about which pre-construction services they provide and which suits your needs and requirements the best.
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