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2024 conference

5 Things to Know About Preconstruction Services in 2024

Key Takeaways from the Advancing Preconstruction 2024 Conference

Written by Jeb Horn, Estimator at Martin Horn

Last month, Arthur and I had the opportunity to attend the Advancing Preconstruction 2024 Conference in Denver, Colorado. Over two and a half days, we participated in 15-20 sessions covering a wide range of topics presented by experts from diverse companies. The conference was a treasure trove of insights, and I’m excited to share the five most impactful takeaways that could shape the future of preconstruction.

1. Proactivity and Communication are Essential

One underlying theme resonated throughout the sessions: successful preconstruction hinges on proactive communication. Engaging the team early and ensuring everyone is truly bought into the project’s vision is crucial. Understanding the owner’s goals, the project’s unique challenges, and the interests of each team member sets the stage for effective collaboration. Early and frequent meetings with all stakeholders, from trade partners to city officials, are vital. This approach not only improves preconstruction processes but also leads to a smoother project handoff.

2. The Critical First Phase

The initial phase of preconstruction is often the most significant and potentially the most costly. A rushed or incomplete conceptual estimate can have severe ramifications. One company emphasized that estimators should have a minimum of five years of experience before tackling conceptual estimates. The mantra "start with the end in mind" was highlighted, underscoring the importance of thorough preparation and expertise in the early stages.

3. State of the Preconstruction Industry

Construction starts data, although covering about 60% of projects, provides valuable market insights. The industry continues to experience growth across all sectors, with non-building infrastructure projects leading the way. Interestingly, there appears to be a cyclical rotation in funding focus between residential, commercial, and infrastructure projects, influencing the number of construction starts in each sector over time.

4. The Value of a Personalized Cost Database

When it comes to conceptual estimating and preconstruction, having a personalized cost database is a best practice. However, many companies face challenges in developing their own. Zebel stood out at the conference for its expertise in creating tailored cost databases and offering functional tools. Given the risks associated with conceptual estimating, investing in such a resource could significantly benefit an organization’s processes and strengthen relationships with trade partners.

5. Building Effective Teams

The success of preconstruction depends on assembling a diverse team that includes trade partners, manufacturers, engineers, owners, inspectors, city officials, and even emergency service representatives. Effective communication with each party is essential. The general contractor must establish clear lines of communication and ensure regular meetings from the outset. Tasks like bid solicitation and value engineering are much more efficient when everyone is on the same page.

Attending the Advancing Preconstruction 2024 Conference was an enlightening experience. The emphasis on proactive communication, thorough preparation, and leveraging advanced tools and data will undoubtedly enhance our preconstruction practices. We look forward to implementing these insights and continuing our commitment to excellence in every project we undertake.

Jeb Bio 2024