“Clients are asking for more communication, too, with owners requesting to meet the preconstruction and estimating and management teams before a project begins.”
Why this is important: We have often advocated that our clients – and construction industry companies in general – seek legal input as early in a project as practicable to avoid potential misunderstandings and problems with plans and specification, contracts, surveys, and other documents or physical aspects of a project that lead to claims and litigation. Project success by the contracting team can also follow this more proactive approach, whereby the “preconstruction” phase of the project becomes more collaborative among the owner, design and/or engineering team, key suppliers, and the construction team. This series of articles stresses the importance of preconstruction collaboration by the project team to eliminate, or at least mitigate, the impacts of “plan and drawing inconsistencies, inefficient supply and material purchasing, poor trade coordination and . . . heavy cost and schedule” issues. In particular, preconstruction collaboration is important to address known and anticipated supply chain issues that have remained following the initial pandemic restrictions, so that schedule modifications (even out of normal sequence construction) can be made in advance of physical construction. The more communicative the project team members are with each other – especially about expectations, acceptable alternatives to building materials and/or design elements, time constraints from other projects, labor shortages, and material cost concerns – the more likely the project is to be successfully completed.
Some construction teams are turning to technological solutions, such as Autodesk Revit’s building modeling to address conflicts among the various disciplines to avoid clashes on site, or software from AGTEK to more accurately estimate costs of earthwork before construction work begins. Other construction companies are turning to AI to analyze financial data and complex plans to develop lower cost products and/or optimize scheduling. The use of technology during the preconstruction phase can certainly impact the timing, costs, and buildability of the project as a whole.
Moreover, owners are coming to expect “real-time” communication about the construction progress, and the sooner the parties establish good lines of communication, the more able they are to meet owner expectations. The articles do note that, despite the increased use of preconstruction collaboration, project timelines and budgets do not always achieve improvements; according to KPMG’s 2023 global construction survey, 37 percent of owners and contractors missed budget or schedule targets over the last year as a result of ineffective risk management. Therefore, it will remain important to seek legal counsel if preconstruction expectations are not being met during the project, again with the hope that claims and litigation can be avoided. --- Stephanie U. Eaton