The nature of construction is solving problems and managing teams. There are many contractors that can complete a project, but only a few that successfully navigate the teams and problems encountered on a project. Whether it is a design / build project, design assist, or a per plans and specification job, our roles do not change. From every preconstruction meeting to punchlists, we facilitate a constructive dialogue and move the ball forward so the project team can accomplish their collective goals. Although every project is different, the following is generally how we see at our roles at the various stages of the project.
As the general contractor, we understand the importance of finding a balance in pre-construction efforts by assisting in leading the design process from a schedule perspective while still allowing time for the creative process, required for a successful project. Whether it is running a design build project or doing design assist, we see our main pre-construction roles as follows:
Managing the Process / Schedule
We will do our best to meet deadlines for all aspects of the design such as major system selections, owner deadlines for financing, or permit submittals and be sure to clearly communicate to all parties to clear any roadblocks for the ownership and design team to achieve these dates.
Provide Real Time Cost Feedback & Value Engineering through Trend Logs
How many times have design teams and ownership groups been surprised at the pricing received by General Contractors after the Construction Documents are issued? For the design team and owner to make educated decisions regarding system selections and finishes, real time cost feedback early on is crucial in the process. We have an effective process establishing budgets at the beginning of each project and using a trend log to track design changes in between the major drawing sets (Schematic, Design Development and Construction Documents). We then verify these trends and overall pricing at each major design milestone, keeping the team on track. We provide extensive value engineering throughout the process to be sure the design build team is making the best value decisions..
Perform Constructability Reviews, BIM Coordination and Involve Key Trades Early
At each major milestone we will perform a constructability review of the documents to solve any issues that would impact design or cost. Our constructability reviews take into account the current state of the documents, focusing on any conflicts rather than “incomplete” areas.
Involvement from experts in every field is imperative during the design process. Whether it is a steel erector reviewing complicated connection details, an elevator provider helping with hoist way sizing, or a mechanical contractor assisting on the life cycle costs of major systems, we utilize our large bank of subcontractor resources to make these experts available to the design team at the appropriate times.
Bristlecone Construction Corp takes the lead on BIM Coordination and clash detection (as warranted by the project). BIM is often used as a marketing slogan rather than an actual benefit to the final project and often times BIM is abandoned or half completed becoming un useful. When all team members are fully committed, BIM is proven to yield large benefits. In order to get the best return on investment, BIM must be used during preconstruction and updated as field conditions change and carried through the entire project.
Identifying Long Lead Items
We will quickly identify the long lead and critical items that need to be ordered while the project is still in the design phase so the materials and equipment arrive on time. Our role is to guide and educate the owner and design team in order to meet deadlines and keep the project running smoothly.
Our smaller projects (Sub $4m) we staff our projects differently than your typical General Contractor. We try to limit areas of “Knowledge Drops” that can occur in between team member hand offs. For instance, our estimators at time of contract know the most about owner preferences, what was included in the contract, subcontractor’s scope and pricing. For smaller projects it is inefficient to transfer this knowledge to a PM for a timely buyout and there is always something lost in translation. For this reason, our estimators also do our purchasing and subcontractor buyout. This limits the burden on the project team and keeps the estimators informed on pricing and market rates on multiple project types and helps with getting subcontractor responses for estimating. On smaller projects we have a “Field Manager,” comparable to a superintendent, who is responsible for oversight of the changes, change estimates, submittals, and RFI’s timely responses crucial to the project team. The Field Manager is supported by an engineer who completes the required paperwork for an efficient project. Lastly, we have the “Project Executive,” who is responsible for the oversight of the entire project process from work procurement to final punchlist. This keeps the project on schedule and within budget. For projects larger than $4m, we typically utilize more traditional roles including Project Manager, Superintendent, and Project Executive roles.
Finding the right subcontractors is the first step to the success of the construction phase for any project. Subcontractors need to be qualified and the right size contractor for the project. This aides in risk vs. cost is analyzed so the best value is achieved.
We make a conscious effort during the subcontractor selection process using outreach efforts that is reflective of the local community.
One of the biggest problems with quality and schedule are selections or submittals are not completed in time for the product to arrive onsite by the scheduled date. Although submittals can seem like a simple process, it is only through a diligent submittal log that we can ensure that the right product arrives when it is supposed to.
We have a zero tolerance policy when it comes to accidents. We believe every accident can be avoided through training and field compliance. This is a large part of our subcontractor selection process and is ingrained in our management as something they need to look for every time they walk in the field.
Scheduling and Field Operations
The Superintendent’s most important role is on site, coordinating work on a daily basis accounting for quality, safety, and scheduling. We structure our office in a way to maximize our superintendent’s time in the field. He will distribute 3 week schedules weekly, the CPM is updated monthly and run foreman’s meetings to make sure that schedules, changes and updated drawings are consistently being transferred to the foreman on the jobsite doing the work.
Efficient Project Administration
We are a systems driven company that believes in project administration, organizing all of the project communication, imperative to a successful project. Our engineers and project coordinators efficiently and systematically manage the flow of information from RFI’s, submittals, changes, OAC meetings, etc. to get the information to the field. Our project administration team has one motto: “Feed the Field.” This means our field staff has the answers and products it needs to complete the project on time with the highest quality.