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How Preconstruction Creates Efficiency and Adds Value

Andrew Thompson serves as the Preconstruction Manager for the MMC Contractors office in Omaha, Neb. With experience in consulting and now in the contracting side of the business, Andrew brings a well-rounded perspective of the construction process — from preconstruction through project completion.

We can all agree each team member rowing one boat is a lot more efficient that each of us rowing our own boat. This same mantra directly applies to the construction industry. Building quality facilities is a challenging endeavor; doing it with architects, engineers, owners, and major trades — each in their own boat — results in a lot of extra paddling for everybody. 

I feel privileged to have been part of the Architectural, Engineering, and Construction industry for 15 years. I spent 13 of those years working in the mechanical and electrical engineering consulting side of the industry. During that tenure, I was involved in the full spectrum of project types from healthcare and mission critical to retail to energy consulting. It became evident during those experiences that there are a lot of inefficiencies in the design and construction process caused by us engineers and architects rowing in our own boat. Now that I am a leader in Preconstruction for MMC Contractors, I see an opportunity to help diminish these inefficiencies by getting us, as a trade partner, in the same boat with the engineering team, rowing together in the same direction.

As a consulting engineer, I regularly felt that we were spending inordinate amounts of time getting detailed information into construction documents that had little value for the construction team or owner. Really, this extraordinary effort was in the interest of risk mitigation. Now that I am able to view the industry from the builder perspective, I can confirm that design engineers are spending significant amounts of precious time on aspects of design that result in little worth when it comes to constructing a high performing building. Just think about how many redesign efforts have resulted from projects not hitting budget goals. Early trade partner involvement will track the project and better plan to hit budget goals with a one-time design. 

It is news to many design engineers that the countless hours of BIM time they spent completing a fully coordinated model go to waste during construction, as a mechanical contractor regularly rebuilds the model from scratch for fabrication and construction purposes. Engaging a trade partner during the design process can lead to an integrated BIM team with an outcome of a one-pass model. As an engineer, it became apparent that the allotted time in the fee for construction administration rarely covered the actual hours. So, instead of lobbying the owners for higher fees in this aspect of construction, it can be addressed by getting trade partners on board early, so all can begin rowing in the same direction from day one. 

At MMC Contractors, we offer Preconstruction services to bring value to the project. These services include conceptual budgeting, design assistance, BIM integration, constructability reviews, etc. There are many contractual avenues that continue to promote trade partner involvement like IPD and Design-Build.  We are advocating that even a more conventional contractual agreement like GMP Design Assist will result in great value for the owner, design team, and construction team. Early trade partner involvement will bring value through significant gained efficiencies in one-time design, one-pass modeling, reduced construction administration, and accelerated schedules.

Trade partners take great ownership and responsibility for projects when involved early. This “buy-in” and understanding design decisions leads to significantly reduced construction administration time. Good design and construction take time, but there always seems to be increased pressure to accelerate schedules. By utilizing trade partners in design-assist roles, there is an opportunity to accelerate the design and construction schedule in an efficient and cost-effective manner. This can be accomplished through early equipment procurement, prefabrication, one-pass BIM modeling, etc. The true value of bringing a trade partner onto a project team extends well beyond the matters that I have described, and I truly believe that it benefits all parties of the design and construction team.