How to Bat 1.000 on Your Next Commercial Construction Project

The similarities between the commercial construction world and baseball are endless. Commercial construction projects, like baseball, need the right mix of ingenuity that stems from the front office level to the right manager and players for a winning product. Take for instance Billy Beane. He’s a well-known front office executive and former general manager (GM) for the Oakland Athletics. He won the inaugural MLB Executive of the Year in 2018 and was portrayed by Brad Pitt in the movie Moneyball. Billy Beane crafted the Oakland Athletics into one of the most cost-effective teams in baseball and paved the way for how players are valued.

When it comes to a commercial construction project, you play the role of GM with a general contractor filling in as team manager and subcontractors as players.

Your ultimate goal as the GM is to find ways to generate value and find the right partnerships that will put a winning ‘product’ on the field. But where do you begin?

5 Tips to Get Started

  1. Lock in and involve your general contractor early in the process.

In a traditional design-bid-build construction process, GCs aren’t brought on until the architect and engineers solidified the concept and design. This can create a disconnect among key groups. Pricing will also be just a mere estimate. Design-build is a different approach growing in popularity. With design-build, both your design and construction services are contracted by a single entity with the goal of faster project delivery and greater overall cost savings.

2. Use your general contractor’s in-house preconstruction team.

There are multiple assistant coaches on staff for a reason. Partnering with firms that have in-house preconstruction teams can give you the upper hand when it comes to identifying new sites. Oftentimes, a preconstruction team can help you effectively navigate any red tape, local building laws and permitting.

3. Limit design changes mid-construction.

Design changes, regardless of how minor, can throw off your schedule and budget in ways you wouldn’t expect. If you can’t help but make tweaks, partner with a GC that can track change orders. Another option is to work with a GC that has a more agile in-house design process and will dollarize your decisions upfront to minimize large changes later.

4. Find tech-savvy partners.

Beane was known for using sabermetrics to measure in-game activity. Similarly, construction technology can be a game-changer when it comes to time and project costs. Not all GCs are able to leverage technology in the same way though. There are project management systems like Procore, PlanGrid and iSqFt, as well as other tools such as VR Previsualization and Point Cloud Scanning that streamline modeling and provide a more robust approach to reviewing design decisions.

5. Look past the fees for a true cost comparison.

While statistics tell one story, it doesn’t always dictate who will ultimately win the game. For example, if you receive two proposals totaling the same cost, but one quoted a higher fee, it may be tempting to run straight to the “cheaper” option. But what happens if there’s unexpected project delays due to their lack of experience? There are countless variables that make the seemingly cheaper option a worse return on investment. Ensure you’re with the right GC that knows you, your vision and is willing to take on risk early in the process.

The Right Partner

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