101 on Buying Builder Preconstruction Services
Owners pay for this review. What is sometimes missing is the accountability for the quality of the numbers--marketing numbers do us no good. The constructability of details needs to be part of the review and recommendation. You don't want to know how many times I have heard whining about flashing details during construction when not a peep was made during preconstruction over the same detail. What you need is true construction expertise--in pricing and constructability.
What is the faster/better/smarter way to buy preconstruction services?
1.Set the baseline. You need to know quantities, units, and unit costs making up the cost estimate. Lump sum numbers are basically useless.
2. Set the finishes. You need to price off a finish schedule. Stain grade vs paint grade, stone vs tile, etc. You can iterate up or down on the finishes to get a budget number circled once you know your quantities.
3. Identification of assemblies benefiting from design build or cost plus approaches to getting it right. On one recent job, we were under construction when the manufacturer's rep backpedaled and would not warranty the installation of their material--two years after they had sold this material to the architect as perfect for the application. The subcontractor was sweating bullets. After a great deal of caveatting, to-ing and fro-ing, and mockups, the material went in, looked great, and the subcontractor ended up looking like a hero--and deservedly so. These assemblies need to be called out during preconstruction and everyone locked in a room until a consensus is reached at that time--not when you are burning $60K a month in OH&P on an active jobsite.
4. Review design for warrantable installations. In the world of design once/build once/operate once homes, sometimes we get a little too far out on the design limb, making materials perform unnatural acts. Best to know what is warrantable--or how to make it warrantable--upfront rather than when we don't have the time to develop a good workaround.
Don't you get this if you just bid it to a couple of contractors? Not really. You will get a partial #1, perhaps broken out by trade. Bottom line numbers are pretty useless and you certainly don't get 2, 3, or 4. Those remain as gotchas to be negotiated during the building process--when you have neither the time nor great leverage.
What is the right price to pay for 1 to 4 above? I have paid from about $0.75 to $2.00 PSF, although I have seen preconstruction lines on projects--before I got involved--add up to $9.50 PSF. Ouch. Have your team work to these four steps and you will start your project in much better shape.