In any building project, the owner is most at risk – they are the one with a massive financial investment at stake.
And there will be problems and challenges that must be overcome to make sure the project is delivered on time and on budget, to mitigate that risk to the owner, and to the other stakeholders.
Risk allocation is a fundamental consideration in construction projects. Usually, parties will seek to include provisions that limit and distribute their respective risks, duties, responsibilities and liabilities. But ultimately the burden of risk falls on the project owner.
Therefore it’s vital that the project owner does all in their power to avoid and overcome the common problems that happen in any job. If challenges are not met, they lead to delays, over-runs and increased costs. They can mean reduced quality of work, which can affect the operation of a building through its life-cycle and could see spiralling costs and negative PR for the owner.
Project owners must meet all challenges head-on to deliver a top-quality, safe and profitable project.
The owner of a construction project is often the only non-technical construction professional involved. In this case, it is critical for the owner to understand what their role in the process is.
An owner’s task list includes (but is not limited to): providing financing for the project, providing site surveys, securing and paying for easements, warranting the plans and specifications, warranting furnished materials, disclosing superior knowledge, acting on clarifications and changes, interpreting the documents, hiring and co-operating with the contractor, potentially interacting with various governmental bodies and real estate professionals to sell the finished project and/or title companies to facilitate the sales.
Ultimately, the owner must assume financial responsibility for the success of the entire project.
Project owners can face many challenges during the evolution of a construction job.
They are making a big investment, so any problems or delays which slow down the delivery of the building must be taken very seriously as they can have a significant effect on the financial viability of a project.
“There’s an awful lot of money tied up in that real estate and the owners need to start paying back as quickly as possible,” says Zutec project manager Gemma Hawes. “Therefore, they need to be moving people in, they need to be sure that they can get them in safely, get those buildings operational, and so they need to be speeding that whole process up.”
Project owners need to keep oversight of their project, and on big, complex construction jobs, transparency and oversight can be difficult.
There is an element of trust involved with the contractor and the other teams – if there are problems and delays, the owner relies on being informed so that they can intervene to subsequent time or cost overruns. Often, these other stakeholders have competing agendas and this is where the element of trust is paramount.
Also, owners need to know they all relevant documentation is in order once the building is handed over and made operational – incomplete, incorrect or fragmented data can lead to problems with operation and maintenance of the asset.
The benefits of a digital construction management platform for an owner are many and it will help to protect their investment.
The general efficiency that it brings to the project means that speed is greatly increased, problems and cost-overruns are minimised, and everyone involved in the job is held to greater account for the quality of their work. Deadlines are more likely to be hit and greater satisfaction is guaranteed.
But possibly the greatest benefit is the oversight it offers. The use of a centralised repository for all data means that the owner can easily keep track on the progress of their project in real time, to ensure deadlines are being hit, quality is assured and costs are not running above where they should be. The element of trust is replaced by hard, documented proof.
It also means they can receive all the necessary handover documents while the project is still taking place. This gives then the ability to establish planned maintenance procedures in a timely manner that will prolong the life of the equipment and fixtures, thereby saving the owners money as well as the potential frustration of a messy handover.
And having all of this information stored in the cloud removes the costs and headaches that come with cumbersome paper storage.
“In the old-school way, they would compile all of their as-built drawings, system descriptions, maintenance information, etc, in paper format, and still in some specifications to this day, they hand over that information in wheelbarrows, in big arch-lever folders,” says Zutec Vice President of Solution Sales, Daniel Da Silva.
“This information has to be stored somewhere. On some of the big buildings that we worked on in the past, they would have huge floor areas to cope with all of the paper that they’d need to house.”
With a digital solution, that problem is obsolete, meaning the storage space can be repurposed with a productive function.