With a team of nearly 20 people, Bozzuto Construction Company’s Preconstruction and Estimating department has just completed one of their most successful years to date. Headed by Senior Vice President Mark Weisner, the Preconstruction and Estimating department is providing feedback on approximately $1.5 billion, that’s right . . . BILLION, of work every year.
In the 2017 Fiscal Year (FY17) alone, the team bid 26 projects totaling more than $1.1 billion in construction value—and in FY18, they’re expecting that number to rise. So what does being a part of the Preconstruction and Estimating department look like day-to-day? Weisner and Senior Estimator, Jenny Dmytryshyn shine some light on the subject for us below.
What is Preconstruction?
Preconstruction, often referred to as “precon,” deals with the planning of a project before actual construction begins. But, that doesn’t mean precon stops when construction starts. Our team works to coordinate a seamless transition from the preconstruction team to the project team, providing support when needed.
What is the Primary Goal of Preconstruction?
Ultimately, we want to achieve and surpass the goals our clients set.
To do this, we:
- Thoroughly review project documents, reports and similar projects.
- Follow up with clarifying questions— Requests for Information (RFI’s).
- Build relationships with clients, subconsultants, architects and others in order to maintain open lines of communication and to set goals and expectations.
This process is fundamental to figuring out the finances and logistics of each job to ensure it’s constructed successfully.
Can You Break Down the Different Roles in Your Team?
While our Preconstruction Team consists of many moving parts, there are two major groups we can focus on—Preconstruction Managers and Estimators.
Preconstruction managers are the “craftsmen” of a project. They find new and innovative ways to “make the deal work.” As the primary point of contact for our clients, they keep the project moving forward, while upholding the overall goal and the client’s vision.
Our team is unique in our belief that it’s vital for preconstruction managers to have both field and operations experience. This first-hand knowledge allows them to readily understand constructability, and quickly react to various challenges that may arise with products, scheduling and logistics.
The estimators are more like the “accountants” of a project–they look at everything in black and white. When bidding a project. It’s important to provide the client with numbers that correlate exactly with their drawings to avoid potential confusion. Each estimator is an expert in their specific trade, whether that be structures, mechanical systems, skin details or site improvements. This deep understanding of a specified area affords estimators the knowledge to provide helpful insight to potential value engineering options as they review drawings.
What is Value Engineering?
Value engineering is a method used to analyze the “value” of building features, systems, equipment and material by comparing their “function” to their “cost.” So, we can increase value by improving function or reducing cost. We’re always looking for ways to improve design and quality and/or save money.
What Does Our Typical Bid Process Look Like?
The typical bid process is four to six weeks long and includes:
- Reaching out to an average of 300 subcontractors to gather pricing input for their individual trades and associated scope.
- Performing a detailed drawing review to ensure consistency and completeness of the documents.
- Developing Requests for Information (RFIs).
- Pulling together a formal response. Additionally, we often hold individual subcontractor meetings to discuss constructability, durations, site logistics and value engineering opportunities. Typically, we receive and analyze three to five qualified bids per trade.
What Are You Looking for in a Qualified Bid from a Subcontractor?
It’s vital that we provide our clients with complete, detailed and meaningful feedback. We look for this same thing when reviewing all bids from our subcontractors. A few of the important things we always seek are:
- Thoughtful information as it relates to the quantities
- Breakout portions for various parts of the project
- Schedule durations
What Makes a Project Successful?
Collaboration. We really enjoy projects that allow us to be a part of the goal setting process—working together with the owner and architect to create the plans that ultimately turn a vision into reality. Whether we join the project at conceptual design, or near the end of construction documents, the collaborative process of creating opportunity and solving challenges is how we define success.
If You Could Give Advice to Someone Preparing to Enter the Construction Field, What Would it Be?
Be prepared to learn. To be successful at anything, you must first build your knowledge base. There are many different levels of a project, and understanding those different levels and practicing the skills associated with them is the first step. Preconstruction is a great place to develop an understanding of the entire process and to get a good idea of what it takes to go from a schematic to actually putting a shovel in the ground.