The Importance of Preconstruction

05 February 2021
Preconstruction Meeting

Potentially one of the most important phases of any construction project happens before any shovels go in the ground and it’s referred to as preconstruction.

Preconstruction is exactly what is sounds like, the planning, coordination and budgeting that happens before construction starts. Generally, preconstruction planning consists of four things:

Defining the vision for the project

Similar to a first date, this step is all about getting to know each other. The General Contractor will meet with the key stakeholders of the construction project, most likely a group of owners, the project architect and potentially an owner’s representative, to discuss the vision for the project. This phase will include a review of the building’s conceptual design as well as the personality of the project or how the owners envision the property fitting into the existing context of the community.

Development of project scope and cost

During this phase, the General Contractor will begin the process of estimation. Working together with the project’s Construction Manager, the Estimator will define the scope of the project broken out by specific trades. From there, they will gather information on the cost of materials and labor in order to develop the best possible estimate of the project’s total cost. This is also when the process of Value Engineering takes place, a procedure designed to find the optimum set of parts and methods to deliver on the owner’s vision while providing the best return on investment

Blueprints and measuring tape

Identification of potential issues

While it is always important to work with an experienced team, the benefits of working with veteran construction professional is never more apparent than when you consider the necessity of foresight. The identification of potential roadblocks in a construction process is crucial to the success of the project. The variety of conditions means that determining potential issues will always vary. Identifying potential problems means an in-depth review of the entire construction plan, everything from site logistics and conditions, to an understanding of construction technologies and methodology.

Planning and scheduling

The last step in preconstruction is the planning and scheduling phase. With any construction project, there may be multiple different trades working on different phases of the project, onsite at the same time. This complexity requires that teams carefully plan the project build-out, taking special care to understand potential overlaps and impacts. Should one aspect of construction get delayed, what other impacts should be suspected based on that delay? How can potential delays be avoided or accounted for in the schedule while also prioritizing efficiency? All of these factors are part of the careful considerations made during the planning and scheduling phase.

Together, these four phases represent preconstruction and are vital in the successful construction of commercial real estate.

Preconstruction hardhat

Preconstruction at Focus

At Focus, preconstruction follows the same steps and while not every client utilizes Focus for preconstruction services, those that do generally benefit from improvements to schedules, cost and design. By systematically reviewing every aspect of a project before executing the scope, the Focus team identifies ways to improve processes.

For example, at Than Tower, a 9-story apartment project constructed by Focus for client Lakshmi Capital, was situated on a small site in a dense neighborhood. The density and height of site conditions required that Focus develop a unique plan for the logistics and phasing of the building’s construction. The unique conditions onsite meant that a typical ground crane wasn’t going to be an option for erecting the building structure, instead use a hydraulic crane would have to be used. By using hydraulics instead of a traditional diesel motor engine, a hydraulic crane is more compact than a traditional crane and would fit onsite.

But using a hydraulic crane didn’t solve the whole problem. Even with the smaller crane, the site was still so tight a change to the construction sequence was also required. Teams would have to leave part of the 4th floor unfinished in order to allow the smaller crane to reach the top floors and finish the structure. This meant that the traditional phased approach to interior finishes which works up, floor by floor, as the building is erected, would no longer work. The fourth-floor interiors would have to wait until the entire structure was completed and meant a change to the schedule. However, that change – because it was identified during preconstruction, meant that teams had the necessary foresight to adjust the schedule without delaying delivery.

Just like at Than Tower, all preconstruction changes are meticulously vetted in order to ensure that they will not negatively impact quality or schedule before they are ever considered a solution. By working with Focus during preconstruction, teams are able to identify potentially project-ending logistical impacts, material and labor shortfalls and budget busters in order to adapt to the unique project conditions and make their vision into a reality.

To learn more about Focus’ preconstruction process and services, reach out today.

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