Preconstruction services have evolved from traditional cost estimating tasks; nowadays it refers to all activities that encompass the preconstruction phase. These services are all aimed at the common goal of fulfilling a client’s requirements and achieving the project’s objectives.
Read further to learn more about the different kinds of preconstruction services that are being used by general contractors.
Preconstruction is the foundation for the entire construction project. It involves strategic planning, definition of scope, risk mitigations, timelines, procurement, cost estimates, permits, and other tasks that are needed to begin a project. In a nutshell, preconstruction is the overall planning that factors every single aspect of the project before actual construction begins. Thus, it is considered to be the most important aspect of the construction phase.
3 Primary Stages Of Construction
There are 3 primary stages in a construction project: preconstruction, construction, and post-construction.
The first, which is called preconstruction, occurs long before any sort of physical work begins on the site. It helps all the stakeholders gain a clear perspective as to how the project will be realized.
The construction phase is where the actual groundbreaking occurs. Once everything has been planned out, only then will construction begin.
Lastly, post-construction happens once substantial completion has been achieved, and the project is ready to be handed over to the client. Submission of construction documents, training, and reporting are all part of this stage.
The Importance of Preconstruction Services
Without proper planning, a project faces severe risks such as cost overruns, delays, poor execution, unclear scopes, legal liabilities, incompatible materials, and financial loss that can ultimately lead to a project’s failure. The preconstruction phase addresses and resolves all of the pertinent areas that are critical to the success of any project.
Preconstruction Services Utilized By General Contractors
Preconstruction services are a broad category of activities performed before construction, here are some of the most commonly performed services:
An initial meeting will be set up between the contractor or representative of the design team and the client in order to assess the client's objectives. The contractor’s objective is to learn more about the client, the project background, and client requirements. Preliminary meetings ensure that all the parties involved fully understand the goals for the project, and to start strong with the proper background and communications.
The overall evaluation is performed by the general contractor once a project’s scope has been finalized and an estimate has been generated. This is an opportunity for the general contractor to provide feedback on the project from a builder’s perspective. The results and findings from this evaluation help clients and contractors assess whether a project is worth pursuing or not.
The evaluation will also take these factors into consideration:
Scope of Work
Materials and Supply
Schematic Design and Review Of Design Documents
A schematic design translates the project requirements and client ideas into a drawing so all stakeholders have a sense for what the project will look like after completion. In this preconstruction service, the schematic drawings are assessed for aesthetics, code compliance, functionality, safety, and usability.
A project will not move forward until all stakeholders of the project have shared their opinions and a consensus is reached. Project requirements and schematic drawings are compared as well to check for omissions. Clarity in the design drawing is absolutely necessary because errors and inconsistencies in these documents are known to cause problems late in a construction project.
This preconstruction service aims to ascertain the potential cost of a project. Estimates serve as the framework upon which the project budget is determined. When performing an estimate, general contractors may use comparable projects from the past as a guide. Other estimates obtained from subcontractors, and for equipment, materials, and labor are also factored into the overall estimate.
The process of estimating the cost of materials for a construction project is called material takeoff. It is the most time-consuming aspect of the estimating process because it accounts for every single piece of material that is going to be used for the project. Depending on the size of the project, some takeoffs can take up to several days or weeks to complete.
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Value engineering aims to address inefficiencies and wasteful expenditures that a construction project may have. Past experiences in similar projects help contractors find opportunities to reduce costs without compromising on engineering quality and design aesthetics. All viable alternatives are considered, and certain system modifications plus value-added options are also incorporated in this phase.
During this phase, the contractor will inspect the construction site and evaluate it for feasibility. This includes evaluating the soil, existing infrastructure, capacity, traffic, parking, landscaping, and other site elements to determine its suitability for the construction project. The objective is to determine if the site is suited to the project's requirements.
General contractors will be looking for areas of potential problems that can result in increased costs. Below are some of the other factors that will be looked into:
Submission of Permits
This service is one of the finishing touches in the preconstruction period. During this period, the general contractor begins to file the necessary paperwork, legalities, and permits required for the commencement of the construction phase. Permits are often submitted during the preconstruction process because these documents take time to file and delays in securing them will push back the start date of the project.
The objective of this phase is to create a realistic and achievable timeline from project kickoff to client handover. Construction schedule planning involves a meticulous assessment of every aspect of the project. It also factors in every single logistical consideration from a site, materials, equipment, and labor perspective.
The initial construction schedule planning will help define the timeline and key milestones that help track the progress of a project. Stakeholder schedules are aligned into a single timeline and the project sequence plan is formed at this point.. Creating the preliminary schedule helps organize the project and outlines a clear path to completion.
General contractors are responsible for the procurement of the materials, goods, subcontractors, and equipment that will be used in the construction project. Procurement is one of the biggest influences on a project's success.
The process requires more than just acquiring materials and goods to complete a job; it also requires an understanding of market prices in order to determine the most cost-effective materials and services. When managing procurement, it is especially important to account for long lead times as these can cause delays when improperly timed against the schedule.
A good general contractor that provides preconstruction services should have a diverse network of qualified subcontractors and suppliers at their disposal.
The term bid package refers to the collection of documents required for answering an invitation to bid and participating in such an invitation to bid. The best way for general contractors to maximize the number of bids received is to work with the design team to create bid documents that are clear, detailed, and as complete as possible.
Additionally, you should offer all bidders a clear scope of work either in writing or through scope check sheets that define what is expected. The development of a bid manual that outlines all requirements, such as the form of subcontract agreement, insurance requirements, safety requirements and instructions to bidders facilitates the review process.
General contractors should always focus on workers and site safety, which should all be enumerated in a safety plan that they create. The goal of the safety plan is to identify safety hazards as well as map out emergency contingencies, evacuation guidance, safety protocols and training. By taking this step, the cost of litigation and the risk of future accidents is reduced.
The goal of risk management planning in a preconstruction service is to highlight potential risks, identify underlying causes of these risks, and to mitigate these threats. General contractors need to be proactive in identifying these issues early. The types of risks include design, external, environmental, organizational, management, right of way and construction risks.
Preconstruction services are extremely important activities that help evaluate and plan the entire project. Although time-consuming and laborious, these services are necessary to try to ensure a project’s success. Failure to make use of preconstruction services may expose the construction project to dangerous, serious and expensive risks and issues. What occurs in the early stages of a construction project has a profound impact on its future success. In fact, the strategic preparations, overall planning and other similar activities that take place before actual construction help projects stay within scope, mitigate risks, meet target deadlines, achieve objectives and reduce cost overruns. In the construction industry, this is known as the preconstruction or ‘precon’ phase.