If You Fail to Plan, You Plan to Fail

In construction, “Time is Money” and saving both are essential for project owners and developers. Once a project is under construction, its success is measured by two statements: “on time” & “on budget.” However, in many cases, the phase of the project before construction starts is not tracked and measured similarly. The goal of the construction phase is to finish on time, so the goal of the preconstruction phase should be for construction to start on time.

Using time effectively during preconstruction is paramount to an efficient project. Once the construction start date is set, all stakeholders have planned activities accordingly. The general contractor outlines the duration and coordinates resources to deliver the project on time, as promised. The owner takes that schedule and begins coordinating their teams for lease-up and occupancy.

The keys to an effective and valuable preconstruction experience are communication and collaboration, and a commitment to these two guiding principles is the engine that drives the process. At the Rafn Company, using our Preconstruction Checklist in conjunction with a detailed preconstruction schedule is the most effective method we use to get the project team to the starting line.

Getting to the Starting Line

Preconstruction services are more than just estimating the cost of building a project. It is a deliberate process by which we plan the construction of a project and guide the design from a contractor’s perspective to help our client achieve a successful balance of design, program needs, and cost.

We provide a different vantage point by assisting the team to refine the scope of work, assess alternate systems and materials, resolve construction challenges, and bring the project to a point where we can estimate the costs accurately and for an amount within our client’s budget. In doing this, we assist the architect and other members of our client’s design team. We are looking at the project from the perspective of determining the best value, schedule, and means to build it.

Preconstruction services are only applicable to delivery methods centered on a collaborative process where the owner, contractor, and designers work together through the stages of design. These delivery methods include: General Contractor / Construction Management (CG/CM) with a Guaranteed Maximum Price (GMP), Design-Assist which brings select subcontractors to the team during design, and Design-Build where the contractor assumes design and construction responsibility. Such delivery methods should be determined at the conceptual design phase. The keystone for success in this endeavor is the dynamic of free and open exchange of information amongst all participants, transforming them into a high-performance team.


Checklist and Schedule Sync

Rafn’s Preconstruction Checklist does what any good checklist does; it ensures everything is considered and addressed during the process. Our checklist tracks where our client is in their due diligence process, where the architect is in their design process, where Design Build or Design Assist subcontractors are in their work, and of course, where Rafn is in our constructability review and estimating process. For each item on our checklist, we note who is responsible, when it is planned to be done, and then a final check that it was completed.

We’ve developed our checklist from over 45 years of partnering in preconstruction and consolidating the many lessons learned along the way. Checklist tasks include everything from land acquisition and zoning analysis to utility connections and ADA compliance. Everything is equally important.

Rafn’s preconstruction schedule is synced with the checklist and is reviewed with the owner and project team at milestone dates. This allows everyone to be accountable for their tasks and how their responsibilities interact with other team members. While the checklist identifies action items, the schedule logic illustrates the potential consequences of missed milestones. By combining these two tools, Rafn provides the team with a roadmap to ensure an on-time project start and that nothing is overlooked.

Continuous Improvement

Providing preconstruction services with excellent systems and processes, leading by example in the quest for an open exchange of information and knowledge, conducting our business in a way that establishes a reputation of reliance and trust, and striving for continuous improvement is the edge that differentiates Rafn from our competitors. Using our preconstruction checklist and schedule, our clients receive value far in excess of the cost of our preconstruction services.

The Rafn Company defines a successful preconstruction process by the following outcomes:
– It’s a positive experience for our client and they receive value from the process.
– We have pre-built the project to minimize surprises.
– Construction starts on time.
– We have a well-qualified team that is well-prepared to execute.

In our next article, we will continue to walk you through our preconstruction process while we dive deeper into the specifics of the checklist.

In our next article, we will continue to walk you through our preconstruction process while we dive deeper into the specifics of the checklist.

Part 1 – If You Fail to Plan, You Plan to Fail
Part 2 – The Checklist Manifesto
Part 3 – Constructability is Key