Enhancing Your Pre-construction Services to Improve Performance

pre construction services

Pre-construction services aren't limited to the estimating and bidding process any more. Regardless of your construction business’ specialty, all firms are doing more in pre-construction due to changes in technology and increased collaboration throughout the building process. Pre-construction services that could benefit your business can include offering an evaluation of building methods, constructability reviews, and project pricing options, along with more traditional estimating and bidding.

How can pre-construction services add value to your construction company?

Pre-construction that focuses on collaboration with architects and owners can help to improve cost estimates and scheduling. Just bringing stakeholders together can offer opportunities for insights and experience limited by the "old-school" traditional secretive bidding and award process.

As one example, a Kansas construction company had a major contract to renovate and build new portions of a public school. They lowered the public school project's cost from $141 per square foot to $122 per square foot, primarily through holding pre-construction meetings with the architect and school district stakeholders. When decisions about materials and processes were at-hand, the meetings held before construction started helped to adjust costs and procedures.

What's wrong with charging for pre-construction services?

Nothing! You can and should charge for pre-construction services, with a variety of options. Some renovation contractors won't look at a full set of plans on a project without charging for the time they need to take to make an estimate. If they receive the bid, then the fee can be applied to part of project costs. From the perspective of these contractors, if a client is unwilling to pay for their expertise in this area, they may not be the best client for their company -- period.

Another scenario involves a pre-construction charge representing a percentage of the overall project budget. One company charges 4% of the total project budget as non-refundable pre-construction costs. If the client eventually chooses not to continue with the project, the fee covers the time and costs of doing preliminary work, estimating, and other pre-construction tasks.

Try adding collaboration and planning to "Design-Bid-Build" workflows for better pre-construction services.

You don’t have to offer a “one size fits all” or “one price for the whole project” on every job. Adding design services to your estimate, bid, and build process can automatically steer better clients toward your business, and ward off clients who are less serious. If you're willing to spend time collaborating with clients on projects before you finalize designs or provide an estimate, you can not only provide better service, but also charge for the design and collaboration step.

Some of the categories of pre-construction services you can consider adding formally and charging for include:

  • Planning (including all needs and functions of the building or project)
  • Conceptual (offering alternatives for building configuration, area, location)
  • Schematic (Floor layouts and narrative descriptions)
  • Design Development (Firming up work contracts and schedules for architectural, structural, mechanical, and electrical aspects of a project)
  • Documentation (Establishing and assembling required documents, from bid sheets to contracts)

Some additional money spent up front in a collaborative design process can help clients save money and reduce project delays. If you're using solid data during pre-construction, you can have a much stronger chance to head off potential problems that can surface in construction.

Being an effective pre-construction services provider takes data

It's difficult to do a good job with pre-construction services like design, collaboration, and presenting alternative materials and construction options without enough data. It’s virtually impossible to do an effective job in the design development phase without prior records and documentation of past projects to guide your work process. Any pre-construction process that involves scheduling will need to be done not only with experience, but also data from prior projects or processes in order to make a realistic estimate. We’ve all heard the phrase, “Do you want it done quickly or done right?”

Pre-construction scheduling should offer a balance between the two options.

Historical databases and records of past jobs can provide a library of experience to draw on for future projects. Using cloud-based estimating software with strong reporting capabilities like ProEst can help you to master pre-construction services that you'll not only charge for, but will deliver strong value to your client.

Why not take a more proactive approach to pre-construction? You can offer a suite of services to your clients that aren't "free" and that help to improve your company's performance.

ProEst's flexible reporting capabilities, integrations with ProCore and RSMeans, and its ability to incorporate information from previous jobs and bids into new jobs make it an indispensable tool to enhance your pre-construction services.

ProEst is a cloud-based pre-construction estimating platform that helps you create accurate estimates and digital takeoffs directly from blueprints quickly, allowing you to determine the most favorable rates for your company within the estimation process. There’s no guesswork involved. ProEst makes quality assurance in commercial construction projects estimation effortless. You won’t have to engage your entire team to be sure your numbers are accurate.

If you would like to learn more about how your commercial construction company can increase its profits and reduce miscalculations during the estimation process, reach out today and schedule a 1-on-1 walkthrough with one of our specialists!