Value Engineering Continues After Design Phase

The process of detecting and resolving unwanted costs is critical throughout a project’s construction.

By Everard Martin

When people hear the phrase “value engineering” used in relation to construction, most think about the identification and elimination of unwanted costs during a project’s design phase. True value engineering, however, is not simply a matter of finding ways to cut costs in design but rather considering every option during each phase of the project, always keeping the owner’s goals in mind. This is especially true during the pre-construction phase, when the analyzation of designed building features, systems, equipment and material selection can maximize cost savings without delaying construction.

Value engineering is a process that should begin on the day a general contractor is hired. A project can be value-engineered as early as the bidding period and should comprise a full analysis of equipment and construction techniques, as well as an understanding of the origin and costs of materials, which vary in relationship to the project location.

At BCG, for example we have seen how analyzing the use of preexisting building foundations can result in significant savings for clients. It’s generally assumed that it makes financial sense to demolish an entire building and its existing foundation when putting up a new structure. In some cases, though, it’s worth expending resources on the investigation and engineering that could salvage the existing foundation and adapt it to the meet the new project’s needs. While not always possible, it is often a viable option when designing a building within the same footprint as a preexisting structure. Although almost never considered, utilizing existing foundations often works and provides substantial cost savings to a project.

Cost Savings & Safety

Peer review of structural and mechanical plans is another value engineering opportunity that presents itself during the pre-construction phase. Too often, it’s presumed that a design is efficient and suitable because it was created by an engineer. In fact, due to the subjectivity of safety in design, no two engineers design with the same safety factors in mind. As a result, tremendous cost savings can be realized during pre-construction by performing peer reviews– taking another look at the design to confirm that it is optimally efficient and that all opportunities for cost savings have been explored while still providing adequate safety protection. The added cost associated with peer reviews can prove to be money well spent when compared to the overall cost reduction to a project.

Finally, there is logistics planning. The heart of efficiency, logistics planning is so vitally important that it can, at times, dictate the design concept of a building. Still, it’s seldom considered in the methodology of value engineering. If done early enough, logistics planning that considers which design, materials and equipment best work for a project’s desired completion time, site and adjacency constraints can add significant value.

For property developers focused on the bottom line, value engineering has long been recognized as an essential way to keep hard costs down. By applying the concept of value engineering to things like considering pre-existing foundations, peer review of plans and logistics planning, engineering, construction and real estate professionals can work together to extend these benefits to every phase of the project. 

Everard Martin, president of Broadway Construction Group LLC, is a construction veteran with over 35 years of experience in all facets of the industry.