It is in the early stages, when plans and strategies are being formulated, that project owners have the greatest influence over the construction process.
The biggest factors to be taken into consideration on any project are the budget requirements, quality of the finished construction and the schedule for completion – everything else will flow from those fundamental aspects.
Everything the owner can do early on to facilitate and control those three pillars of the job, from beginning to end, will be key to its overall success.
The flip side of this is that if the correct decisions are not taken at the earliest stages of the job, these will manifest throughout the build, causing problems, delays and cost over-runs, and may ultimately negatively affect the delivery and operation of the finished building.
Inexperienced project owners can under-estimate the scale and complexity of the project they are getting into. In a major build, the nature of the beast is that if you don’t retain tight control, problems and delays will inevitably happen. This will lead to cost-overruns that the first-time project owner might not have been expecting.
Similarly, an inexperienced project owner might assume good faith will be in play by all stakeholders and subcontractors who become involved on a project. They might not realise that if something goes wrong, the subcontractors will look to pass the buck and the owner is the one who’ll be left to pick up the tab. So proof of responsibility and liability must be clearly established, or the first-time owner might be taken advantage of by unscrupulous parties.
They might make poor planning decisions that lead to costly problems once the build is under way. They also may not realise the importance of documentation handover and management to the ongoing operation of their building throughout its life cycle.
Another common misconception is that the owner will think they can oversee the entire project using just their wits – they don’t realise the huge complexity of all the calculations, the tracking of costs, all the documentation that must be managed, all the moving parts that they are ultimately responsible for.
They assume people will be easily contactable in the field, will quickly answer emails, will promptly provide necessary certs and documentation, that paperwork won’t get lost, that human error won’t be a factor – all the nitty-gritty bits of the reality of any job that can combine to cause major headaches for owners.
If the owner integrates a construction management software solution from the very beginning, it will help them avoid many of the common problems and mishaps that take place. It will allow them to lay down the foundations that will drive the job to completion on time, on budget and to the highest standard.
“At the very beginning of the project is when you need to invest in a solution for capturing data on-site,” says Zutec technical manager Ray McCaul.
When project owners make the use of a digital solution a requirement of all stakeholders on the project from the tendering process, they are suddenly working in a much more transparent landscape.
They now have ownership of all the data related to the job, and of all the benefits that brings – easier tracking of costs, full accessibility to all documents, better communication and collaboration, a clear view of the progress of the job and the performance of all the stakeholders involved. They can use BIM models, in collaboration with architects and designers, to make better planning decisions and avoid problems before they ever arise in the real world.
The greater transparency of inspections and the related accountability removes the risk of being taken advantage of by unscrupulous subcontractors.
Zutec project manager Thomas Heery says: “Inspection is something that should be addressed right from the very beginning, at design phase. An inspection solution would be part of a safety plan, a quality plan, and the actual programme for a project.”
With all the information flowing in throughout the build, the owner also has a smoother handover – a digital handover allows for better operation and maintenance of the building, protecting the assets in the long term.
Involving all stakeholders through a digital platform from the planning stage will increase collaboration, drive efficiency throughout the project, help avoid problems, and assist in the successful delivery of the building.
The active and confident involvement of the owner at the start of the process will lead to a more satisfied owner at the end of it.