Hard construction cost is a central issue in commercial construction. From store fronts to hotels, doctor’s offices to hospital remodels, schools and colleges, it would seem that— without a homeowner’s personal choices to complicate matters— these projects should be problem free. Many assume that once the plans are finished, (and fully detailed through completion by professional architects and engineers), all that remains is to pay for permits and build as fast as possible.
More often than not, this ideal is a dream, not a reality. Commercial construction is just as subject to cost overruns, and undiscovered surprises as any residential project. When those surprises surface, however, they tend to be quite expensive. Although commercial construction is often more standardized, the commercial construction environment typically includes another whole layer of code regulations and constraints—especially if state funding is involved. This makes these projects ponderous— rather like an oil tanker trying to change course. The design must take into account a host of approvals, and these are like a series of locks on the Panama Canal: once negotiated they are left behind and all attention is focused on what’s ahead— not what may have been overlooked in the rush to make progress. The options for cost analysis and dramatic reductions of an overall budget are best employed at the start— not when construction is under way.
Even so, we have found many ways to re-focus cost and budget driven issues around commercial developments, so that cost savings can still be achieved, even after the start of construction. It is always preferred to engage this sort of analysis during the design phase, but as we read about on a regular basis, larger city, state and federal projects frequently experience massive cost overruns. Much of the time, these are caused, not by any deliberate choices or oversights made by those involved in the design process, but from a host of scheduling pressures that push project managers and their staff to mobilize without thorough analysis of every cost related question
Given the complexity of some of the projects we have managed, which have included seismic cost analysis in large commercial buildings, Fire suppressant systems (previously based on Halon 1301, now superceded by ECARO-25), sophisticated vault interlock alarm surveillance, it is no surprise the costs of these elements came as an expensive surprise to the owners of these properties. But our experience confirms that cost-based analysis and construction management of these projects could have saved millions of dollars in hard construction costs. Few things contribute to a project’s ultimate success quite so much as completion within the anticipated time frame and budget. That’s what we like to deliver.