Construction is a complex process and much is at stake, particularly your time, resources and the opportunity to do it right the first time. Before starting your project and selecting a construction partner, here are a few important questions to ask yourself.
Why is this project necessary?
The first order of business is to make a case for the necessity of your building project. Is your proposed project to create a new market opportunity or competitive advantage with a new, modern facility, improve an employee retention or growth strategy, overcome poor facility conditions, improve efficiencies or expand capacity? Do you have, or can you get, your organization’s leadership and financial support to complete this project?
Is it financially viable?
Will the return to my organization be greater than the cost to construct and equip the new facility and to operate the facility once it is completed? This will likely include creating some kind of pro forma financial statement for your project, and answering questions related to such items as control of the land, rough idea of the size and cost of the improvements, source(s) and uses of funding, and your internal approval process.
Can I get it approved?
If your organization is a municipality, school district, or other governmental entity, you may need to plan for a public approval process that may include a referendum or authorization to borrow money. If you are a private company, your internal process will more likely be a financial analysis of the return on the investment, factoring in the total estimated cost of the project (including borrowing costs) and the projected increase in profit.
What’s my construction budget?
Having a conceptual budget that works for your financial projection prior to starting design on a construction project is essential. Having a rough budget to work from will guide the pre-construction team in their design and construction approach, making the design phase of your project more efficient and effective. Work with a design and construction team that has a history of delivering projects on time and within budget due to a high level of service during pre-construction. You will need to have confidence that the first conceptual number – the initial cost opinion for your construction project - will be within a couple percentage points of the actual construction number.
What are my priorities (must-haves) for the project?
What aspects of your project are most important to you and your organization? Your project budget will become a process of give-and-take as design progresses from schematic design to construction documents. Identifying your top priorities (your “must-haves”) early in the process will help your architect and construction partner make sure that you get the most important elements in your completed space.
What are my options for construction partners?
Your construction partner will be a key member of your team in developing a realistic budget and viable construction plan. Decisions throughout the pre-construction process, including overall design, layout, materials, and finishes, will be based on your initial budget and fine-tuned as design progresses.
Selecting a construction company that you are comfortable with and that provides the level of service you need for such a project is important to your success. The best construction partners will become an extension of your staff and work to create a collaborative environment.
Do your research on construction companies in your area and the various delivery methods they offer. The principal delivery methods include general contracting, construction management, or design-build.
See What Should You Ask Yourself Before Starting a Construction Project-Part 2 for more information on the Construction Management process.