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Thinking About Building? Prioritize the Planning

Thinking About Building? Prioritize the Planning

By Chad Nienhuis, Director of Pre-Construction Services

The thought of undertaking a capital improvement project for your business, school, church, or even your home can be intimidating to say the least.

A few things you might be asking yourself:

  • Do I renovate or build new?
  • What about fundraising and financing?
  • Will I need to buy land?
  • How long does it take to build?
  • Where do I find a contractor and/or an architect?
  • What are the permitting, zoning, and inspection requirements?
  • What about furnishings and equipment?
  • How do I coordinate my technology needs?
  • These are just a few questions, and it can be difficult to know how or even where to start.

A construction project is one of the most significant investments of time, money, and energy resources.

So where do you start and how do you ensure your needs are met during the process?

The best place to start is finding a contractor or design professional who can communicate the design, planning, and construction process in an open and transparent fashion. A thorough planning phase will make a big difference in the overall outcome and success of your endeavor.

Starting with Pre-Construction

The process of project planning, or more technically referred to as the pre-construction phase, generally encompasses the portion of the project that begins from the time a thought or idea is sketched out on a ‘napkin’ to breaking ground on the construction site. The pre-construction  time frame can vary depending on the size, scope, and complexity of the project and could range from several months to two to three years.

So, what does the pre- construction process look like and why is it so important?

As consumers in the current global marketplace, most of what we purchase is immediately tangible--we can touch it, feel it, drive it, wear it, or at a very minimum, see pictures of it online. We can compare it to similar products in the marketplace and make our decisions based on how the products fit our vision. A skilled pre-construction professional will assist you in doing just that—walking with you and translating drawings and technical specifications to help you visualize how your facility will look, feel, and operate, and to make decisions around schedule, design, and fit-out that best fit your needs and budget. Giving ample time and effort to the pre-construction process will protect you from delays and costly changes later in the process. It’s estimated that projects with a less comprehensive pre-construction phase can increase the overall project cost by up to 20%.

The Do’s and Don’ts

A few other things to consider:

  • Don’t feel rushed through the planning
  • Don’t make decisions based upon fee or price You’ll get the level of service you pay for, and you won’t know what’s missing until it’s too late.
  • Interview construction professionals and have them walk you through their pre- construction process. Make sure their communication style is a best-fit for
  • Ask questions. It’s the contractor’s job to help you understand—and to answer questions with transparency.

Considering these guidelines can make the building process a fun and enjoyable experience— but, most especially when you start off on the right foot!

Additional Resources

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