How Owners Are Streamlining the Preconstruction Phase
Today’s owners face an enormous amount of pressure, tasked with delivering construction projects both on time and on budget. Yet each year, as project complexity increases, this becomes more challenging. Forward-thinking owners are using data-driven technology to gain a competitive advantage and propel their construction methods into the future.
Starting projects off right with an optimized preconstruction process
Take the preconstruction, or planning, phase. Data silos have historically made it difficult to streamline the preconstruction process, but technology is now helping solve this problem.
During preconstruction, it’s essential to operate from a single source of information—or at least as few sources as possible—so that everyone is on the same page from the beginning. Connecting everyone, from the owner to the general contractor to the subcontractors and suppliers, requires technology that every team can access and use.
Centralized project management suites consolidate data in a single reference point that continuously updates as plans evolve and change. Thanks to constant updates, collaboration in the cloud reduces the chance of missing messages and outdated information.
Here’s a breakdown of how technology is transforming each part of the preconstruction phase.
Owners increasingly require their general contractors and subcontractors to use Building Information Modeling (BIM) and coordinate their models before beginning work. Even tiny discrepancies between the models used by various contractors on a project can result in rework. With an average of 5 percent of a project’s costs coming from rework alone, it’s obvious that increasing the use of BIM can dramatically improve project margins.
Inaccurate quantification leads to budget errors, which makes it hard to keep a project on schedule and moving smoothly. Creating accurate takeoffs requires a complete and seamless data handoff between firms. That requires robust data integration, which makes document sharing essential for this stage.
Traditional estimation from cost tables, even ones that are only a year or two old, often results in bids that are surprisingly off the mark. This results in unexpected costs, which either eat into profits or increase the amount paid by the customer. Better technology can provide more precise estimates for factors such as materials, labor, permitting costs, and other requirements. This leads to more accurate estimates overall, and thus more accurate budgets.
Finding the best vendors for a project can take hours if you want to truly compare the reliability and prices of multiple sources. Bid management software can take most of the work out of vendor selection by pre-sorting a pool of qualified leads and making it easy to compare all the essential details.
Vendor qualification is one of the most effective ways to reduce risk. If you’re one of the many construction owners concerned about risk assessment and accurate mitigation recommendations, you need the latest qualification technology to find the best vendors. With so much information to sort through for each vendor, software is your best chance of making the right choices for every project.
Adopting design-for-manufacture techniques to boost efficiency
Australia’s Unitised Building, a construction technology group founded by architect Nonda Katsalidis, tapped into advanced BIM features to build high-rise structures on property previously thought to be unusable.
A property located in Melbourne’s Russell Place was an ideal location for the project, but there were intensive permitting issues, due to an underground electrical substation. By using design-for-manufacture (DfM) techniques to standardize and streamline the creation of everything from doors to wiring for wall assemblies, they managed to design a high-rise building light enough to meet all the stringent requirements for the site. If done manually, it would have taken years just for the careful design work alone.
The latest cutting-edge BIM tools were used to rapidly generate high-quality models of every component of the building, which were then constructed off-site. Moving the bulk of construction to the factory was only possible thanks to a successful preconstruction phase identifying every change and improvement needed to meet the various permit and site requirements.
See more ways owners are making the most of construction technology
In our new guide, “How Owners Are Embracing and Creating the Future of Construction,” we explore how leading organizations are making the most of technology—from the office to the to the field and beyond. You’ll see examples of how the latest in safety technology is helping reduce onsite risk and how methods like modular construction are helping owners build more efficiently and sustainably than ever before.
Dustin DeVan is Construction Industry Strategist and Evangelist at Autodesk Construction Solutions and Co-Founder of BuildingConnected.
Founded in 2012, BuildingConnected has built a network of more than 1 million construction professionals, helping real estate owners and general contractors find and hire qualified contractors for their projects. BuildingConnected joined Autodesk in 2018, adding bid management, risk analysis, and other preconstruction solutions to Autodesk’s construction portfolio.
Prior to founding BuildingConnected, Dustin worked as an engineer, scheduler, estimator, and project manager for 6 years in commercial construction. He has held roles at some of the largest construction companies in the country.
Dustin's construction experience includes large-scale, complex projects such as the $80 million medical office building for Kaiser Permanente, the $6 billion Las Vegas City Center, HP's headquarters in Palo Alto, Western Digital’s Class 10 clean room expansion, and a $700 million coal-fired power plant in Texas.
Dustin holds two Bachelor of Science degrees from the University of California, Davis, in Mechanical Engineering, and Aeronautical Science and Engineering.