In earlier posts, we defined design-assist, and we talked about how design-assist helps owners mitigate risks on construction projects. Now, we want to go a little deeper and explain why we believe infrastructure projects specifically are great candidates for design-assist.
Infrastructure projects are essential for ongoing building operations. Yet, especially in legacy buildings, they can be full messy and full of unknowns. Existing conditions, change orders, schedule delays…the issues can add up quickly.
These challenges are exactly what make infrastructure projects great candidates for design-assist. Five opportunities stand out:
Note: When we refer to infrastructure projects, we generally mean the replacement of some MEPT system(s) without modifying the building structure. Facility owners undertake infrastructure projects for a variety of reasons: capital projects or deferred maintenance for end-of-life systems, code compliance, energy savings, and so on. Infrastructure projects can also be part of a larger renovation, where you need to make system upgrades to support new building functions.
As a general rule, teams go into infrastructure projects not knowing the full scope of work. The full scope includes factors beyond design, such as constructability and phasing. On infrastructure projects, these can have a significant impact on cost, schedule, building occupants, and more. For example:
With design-assist, owners gain important information that lets them look at the project holistically and plan more effectively.
In legacy buildings, you often don’t know whether the historical documents are reliable. Neither the owner nor the design team necessarily knows what’s really behind walls or above ceilings. These unknowns can hit a project hard during construction, leading to costly change orders or delays.
With design-assist, the team tackles unknowns early in the project. They work together to uncover and plan for existing conditions. The owner, in turn, has an early opportunity to re-prioritize the project scope if needed.
During design, the team nails down existing conditions through two key activities:
Design-assist partners provide the team with real-time estimating as design progresses. Rather than having to cut back at the end of design or after bids come in, the team can adjust and the owner can make decisions as they go.
No one likes spending money they’re not expecting to. If all I want to do is replace a light fixture in my home, I’m not going to be happy to learn halfway through the project that the house wiring is faulty and needs to be replaced too. The same applies to infrastructure projects.
But this is what often happens: The design team completes their drawings. The owner gets bids, selects a construction team, and then spends the rest of the project going through change orders as the team uncovers unknowns and existing conditions. The bid number wasn’t the final number. Throughout construction, the owner keeps inching toward the actual cost.
With design-assist, the project team has a more accurate picture of the total cost. They’ve reduced unknowns, evaluated the full scope of work, and used real-time estimating in advance of construction. This greatly improves an owner’s ability to plan.
The design-assist partner contributes their construction expertise during design, smoothing the transition from design to construction.
In legacy buildings, infrastructure projects can be messy and full of unknowns. With design-assist, owners can pin down the unknowns, get a big-picture view of the project, and understand the real cost.
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