Long before a construction project even begins, there are a number of activities that need to be executed, known as the ‘Pre-construction services’. These services or activities are predominantly administrative and analytical but are especially important since they will set the framework of cost and schedule control for the project.
This pre-construction phase encompasses all of the undertakings in a construction project that occurs prior to the construction.
Pre-construction services, more commonly known as “precon”, refer to all the planning, analysis, scheduling, and preparation that have to happen before the construction can even begin. Most often provided by local construction companies and construction management companies, the purpose of these services is to make sure the construction is both; practicable and feasible.
The Pre-construction Phase is arguably one of the most crucial phases in the overall duration of the project. From constructing a small home to the construction of an enormous factory, the pre-con phase helps in determining all the cost, length of time required, and risks involved in its completion. Hence, it must be strategically planned and laid out for the construction management team as well as for the client.
You initiate this process with a Partnering Meeting which basically calls together the ones involved in the design, construction and end use of the project. The objective of this meeting is to communicate and learn the goals or objectives for the project, identify potential problems and solutions, and establish clear lines of communication.
A Master Schedule for the project through design and construction is then prepared to facilitate the overall process. This comprehensive schedule clearly indicate the major design milestones including all of the pre-construction, bidding, permitting and other project related schedule issues and activities.
Not to forget, the predominant estimate or up-to-date budget, which may involve these:
- Design development estimate
- Schematic design estimate
- Contract document estimate
- Competitive bidding
- Bid Packages
- Value Analyses
- Estimate turn-over package
Benefits of Pre-Construction Services
Most people with limited resources often ask the question ‘What are the benefits of pre-construction services’?
To begin with, the primary benefits of investing in pre-construction services are saved time and money. In addition to that, many unexpected problems can be avoided during the construction process with the help of precon services. Which in turn leads to an even increased reduction in the amount of time and money spent on the project.
Pre-construction services basically simplify the entire construction process and they also help with the efficient progression of the project. It is a well-known fact that successfully completing any given construction project demands a lot of coordination, assessment, and planning. It is usually more than a single person could handle, but that’s where precon services come in. Their job is to provide the owner with important information about the project and set them on a clear path towards project completion.
Investing in precon services is a tried and tested way to organize the construction progress better while preventing any unnecessary problems, delays and expenditures. As the client, you will have all of the deliverables you need to make an informed decision about whether to move forward with the project.
You also have the ability to go into the project with a full understanding of the different risks associated. These risks may not deter you from the project, but you could reduce their impact by preparing for them. You can also become aware of many areas of possible cost savings which were previously unknown to you. As a starter, the planning of pre-construction primarily involves cost, scope and schedule and while doing so, the goal is to conclude all this as early as possible to enable the most efficient use of resources and money.
This should include developing preliminary design documents, constructability reviews, project cost estimates for both equipment and construction, a project schedule, objectives of the project, the risks and stakeholders involved.
This process helps the owner determine if the project is viable or not and also provides early identification of possible problems and where they might occur, allowing for risk mitigation. This results in a reduced number of unexpected costs and schedule variations, and also a decrease in the number of changes made during the entirety of the project. All in all, the pre-construction process basically enables you to utilize funds more efficiently and adhere to a proper schedule which meets all the necessary requirements and a thus the whole project delivery process becomes smoother. Moreover, the owner is provided with a list of deliverables such as a procurement plan, an execution plan and risk analysis thus it becomes fairly easy for the owner to keep track of these things.
Subsequently, the extended plan for precon phase generally involves;
- Meeting with clients or customers to get a precise understanding of the project while exploring their demands and interests to help anticipate what changes may be requested.
- Creating a schedule that details milestones and sets goals for the team. It should also be communicated to clients to help them understand how the project will be carried out.
- Visiting the project site and developing an initial design for the project. Accordingly choosing materials and coming up with a loose plan.
- Assessing requirements, scope, cost estimates and scheme to leave no stone unturned.
- Building a responsibility matrix that includes third parties and subcontractors to understand who oversees what and when things will be delivered.
Nevertheless, you should understand that the planning is never over and must always be a continued effort throughout the scope of the project. Consequently, such planning always results in higher-quality work that meets the requirements of a project, including budget, time and resource constraints. It is nearly impossible to achieve any milestones promptly without first identifying how realistic they are.
Pre-planning significantly helps everyone involved understand the feasibility of a project and its cost requirements. Thus pragmatically, something planned or suggested may need modification as a result of budget constraints. Maybe something would eventually cost too much to wrap up with, so an alternative is necessary.
The result of all this is a more accurate depiction of the initial design, higher quality work, better levels of productivity, more cost-effective processes and a satisfied client; all inherent results of an effective pre-construction planning. In addition, not to forget the impact of preproject planning on cost performance. Many studies have reported a positive relationship between preproject planning and cost performance, indicating that a greater preproject planning effort correlates with better cost performance
If you have made it this far, we assure you that you now have a much better understanding of pre-construction services and why they are important. The one thing that you should take away from all of this is that precon is not to be under appreciated while initiating a construction project. As we have discussed, there are plenty of reasons why you should always consider investing in pre-construction prior to the project’s beginning. You won’t just be saving yourself time and money, but you’ll also be significantly reducing the number of risks involved in the process. And of course, the whole construction process will be streamlined. We hope that you keep our guidelines and tips in mind the next time you start a construction project.