If you are a property developer who is building from the ground up or undertaking a large fit-out or refurbishment project, you will undoubtedly be aiming to control your budgets and reduce construction costs as much as possible. However, the construction phase can be the most risky aspect of a property development, and the correct management of this process can be the difference between a successful and highly profitable project and a loss making ‘problem development’. In discovering ways to reduce costs throughout a development project, your building contractor will form a critical part of your project team and should be able to advise you on the risks and cost saving opportunities that will lead to a successful construction project. Here are some tips on how building contractors are key to reducing project construction costs:
Get Early Involvement from a Building Contractor
Engaging with a building contractor as early as possible during the construction project has significant benefits and it is advised that you seek the involvement of a building contractor as you are carrying out the early stage design of your construction project. Typically, your architect will follow 7 key design stages:
- Strategic Definition – Your designer will work with you to set out the best means of achieving your requirements.
- Preparation and Briefing – You will approve the Project Brief and confirm that it can be accommodated on the site.
- Concept Design – Your designer will provide an architectural concept for you to approve which aligns with the Project Brief.
- Spatial Coordination – Architectural and engineering information will be spatially coordinated (will overlap with stage 5).
- Manufacturing and Construction – Manufacturing, construction and commissioning of the project (no design work in stage 5 other than responding to Site Queries).
- Handover – Building is handed back to you (the client), aftercare is initiated and building contract concluded.
- Use – The building is then used, operated and maintained efficiently.
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Ideally, you should aim to involve your building contractor at Stage 3 in the project phase. Having a building contractor involved at this stage of the development is a huge benefit as far as project cost savings are concerned. Your building contractor will have an input into the concept design from a construction perspective, offering advice and liaising with your architect regarding logistics, materials, construction methods and lifecycle costing. The building contractor will be able to propose more economic and more efficient methods of building design and construction that can reduce building costs throughout the project.
Consider Hiring a Design and Build Contractor
As mentioned above, it is a great idea to involve your building contractor early in the design process in order for viable construction solutions to be put forward that will reduce construction costs. Another solution to reducing construction costs is to hire a Design and Build contractor. A Design and Build contractor is a specialist building contractor who will be responsible for taking on both the design and the construction of a project, normally from stages 3 and 4 in the design process. A Design and Build contractor will normally hire your original architects at this stage or decide to bring their own firm of architects into the project. The benefit to you is that the Design and Build contractor will take the risk of design responsibility away from you as a client, meaning that you are less likely to be faced with variations and additional requests for money should the design change throughout the construction process. This means that the Design and Build contractor’s costs are more likely to stay fixed through the construction phase, meaning that you will be better placed to ensure that construction costs do not exceed your budget.
Invite your Building Contractor to Review Ground Conditions
When building from the ground up, the ground works are the most unknown and highest risk factor concerning a construction project. In our article; Planning Your Self Build: 5 Things To Consider Before Starting Your Self-Build Project, we explained the importance of carrying out ground investigation reports such as Ground Surveys and Contamination Reports in order to highlight risks that could cause problems in forming the foundations of your development project. During the design phase where you would normally also involve a structural engineer, it is also a good idea to involve your building contractor. Your building contractor will be able to draw upon their experience and put forward solutions to mitigating risks which may cost you further down the line.
Encourage your Building Contractor to Explore Value Engineering Options
Cost saving measures do not have to end during the design stage; they should also be encouraged through the construction project through a process known as Value Engineering. You should make your building contractor aware of the need to look for cost efficient methods of construction, such as alternative building materials and products that perform the same task, offer the same level of quality but at a more competitive cost. This could include for example, plasterboard types, insulation, sanitary ware and kitchens and appliances. Across larger projects such as student accommodation blocks and apartments, small cost savings per unit could result in thousands of pounds worth of savings.
The correct management of the construction process of a property development can be the difference between a highly profitable and successful project and an unsuccessful project. Your building contractor will play an important role by giving advice on early stage design, ground and foundation and by actively being involved in the cost saving process through Value Engineering methods. Hiring a Design and Build contractor can also reduce risks and help to fix construction costs given that a design and build contractor will be responsible for the design process from stages 3 and 4.
If you are currently set to undertake a construction project, feel free to get in touch with us and will be happy to discuss your project with you in more detail.