Everything You Should Know About Advanced Preconstruction in the Midwest

advanced preconstruction at McCownGordon

Many construction firms in the Midwest and beyond will guide you through the preconstruction phase, but their work often starts and ends with basic estimating and cost analysis. While this may be helpful for some, it greatly limits the full capabilities of a project and its success. 

However, with advanced preconstruction, you can take full advantage of the latest technologies the construction industry has to offer to help you plan, prepare and work out kinks in your project before construction begins. 

McCownGordon Construction exemplifies what it means to go beyond basic preconstruction to bring our customers the best outcomes possible. As local experts in our industry, our goal is to add value to every project while boosting cost savings and time efficiency along the way. 

We believe that preconstruction lays the true foundation for a build, and without in-depth care, you may not get the best results.

Read on to learn more about preconstruction services and how they’re designed to meet a project’s goals. 

What is preconstruction?

In the simplest terms, we design our preconstruction phase to optimize the money you spend on a project. When you hire a firm to provide preconstruction services, the goal is to find ways to increase value without compromising quality.

Many firms perform cost estimates, which in turn helps architects create a design within a budget. But to truly get the most out of these services, you’ll want to find a firm that understands your goals not just in construction, but in your long-term business. 

During preconstruction, our team looks at other factors such as scheduling, availability, workforce capability and design—in other words, factors that build the financial bigger picture.

Engagement and collaboration between teams are the key forces that push a project forward. McCownGordon uses our advanced preconstruction services the moment you hire our team. That crucial input between the design team, owner, contractors and our own associates helps us not only enhance the design, but also work to make the design as cost efficient as possible. At the end of the day, we use this “value engineering” to help you spend money wisely. 

The length of preconstruction can vary from project to project. A larger K-12 school or university building could take upwards of 12 months, while a smaller office space could take around four to six months. Regardless, we pride ourselves on having teams that stick around for the long haul, so our clients work with a passionate and tight-knit team from design until completion. 

Meeting and Introduction

The first meeting of the preconstruction process is crucial to understanding your goals and where you foresee your project going. This allows us to get into your mindset to cater the project’s goals to your own. McCownGordon uses this meeting to create a management plan. To do this, we go through step-by-step and talk about your project. Some questions we may ask include:

  • Why are you starting a construction project? We want to understand your motivations to help us guide you better. Understanding the “why” behind a project makes for a better team and collaborative environment. 
  • What is important to you? Our team bases everything we do on what the customer needs. That means we have to understand what’s important and what’s not. 
  • Which pieces of design can’t be touched? Since we’re working directly with you and architects early on, we can better understand which design choices cannot logistically change. Understanding these design elements will help us create a better budget plan for you. 

Those are only a few of our initial questions; we cater each meeting to each project, because we don’t believe in a generalized approach. Therefore, you can expect more specifics and in-depth conversations in your initial meeting.

Additionally, we always discuss budget and cost options. Right away, we want to see where you are with the budget and how your design goals match up. In some instances, it may work; in others we may have to look at different cost options. 

Preconstruction and Design

Preconstruction services and design go hand-in-hand. McCownGordon uses the initial meeting to help the architect keep the schematic design within budget. In a sense, you can consider the schematic design your “dream” phase. What is your ideal outcome? What do you want your building to look like? From there, we can work with the design team to bring that dream to life, all while keeping value in mind. We search for the best options to reach your goals without compromising your budget. 

After, we put the schematic design to the test. Is it possible to reach your ideal design without breaking the bank? If not, what kind of tradeoffs can we make? What other building materials are out there? What kind of design tweaks can we make to maximize expenditure? Sometimes the schematic design works right away, and other times we might have to make tough decisions based on what you want versus what you need. 

Schematic design and further discussion with architects and owners lead to design development. 

With the innovative technology we use in the preconstruction phase, we build 3D models and use estimating tools to pull data based on those models. This allows us to more easily update design changes, find areas we could improve, and offer in-depth guidance on how much your build will cost. We may also implement our speciality services such as virtual reality mockups or engineering services to take full advantage of your construction possibilities. 

From design development we work with architects to create the construction documents (CD). These are the final documents the architects use on the construction site to guide the building process. 

One benefit of working with McCownGordon during the preconstruction process is our real-time estimating technology. We understand that our clients don’t want a big surprise at the last minute. Therefore, our tools give direct insight on how changes in design can impact the overall budget. This allows owners to see the ramifications of their decisions before they make their final choice. 

Not only do we use our design tools for cost estimation, we also implement them to help with scheduling—because budgeting your time is just as important as budgeting your finances for a construction project. 

In fact, if a build doesn’t align on a proper schedule, you could end up spending a lot more money than you initially expected! That’s why using the top construction technology on the market (and always searching for the latest and greatest!) enables us to use those design models to guide schedules. If you can see exactly how long walls will take to build or how long it will take to install flooring, you have a better idea of the overall project schedule. Once construction begins, there will be less guessing, and the project can streamline a lot more efficiently than if you didn’t go through the preconstruction process.

As a result of this early collaboration between preconstruction and design, we can greatly reduce or even eliminate change orders and give our customers unmatched long-term cost savings. 

What about contingencies? 

Contingencies aren’t something you should be afraid of. Throughout preconstruction, contingencies act like a financial cushion in case something is not fully designed or if it changes. For example, early in the design process, we may not have all the information we need to create a complete estimate. We often estimate even without a full design, but that means we have to allocate part of the budget to areas that haven’t been designed toward contingencies. 

Many people try to get rid of all their contingencies at once, but we recommend keeping them in place. You don’t want to remove all contingencies, find a change you’d like to make in the design, then not have the funds to resolve that error. We can’t be as exact with estimates on parts that aren’t yet defined, but as we get more design information, your project will gradually require fewer and fewer contingencies. 

Also, keep in mind that contingencies aren’t solely for design. There are also construction contingencies that could help you cover construction unknowns such as unforeseen site conditions or weather delays.

Luckily, we work hard to maintain a team (and a culture) of expertise unmatched in the Midwest construction industry. With our guidance, the need to utilize your contingencies should stay minimal and your construction process well-planned and -executed. In fact, a lot of times we don’t actually touch the contingencies, and the owner is able to use the extra funds for additional scope or wish list items. 

How to Calculate the Right Contingency Budget for Kansas City Construction Projects →

Preconstruction and Bidding

McCownGordon has the expertise and market knowledge to bid a project at varying phases of its design. 

We help businesses in Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, Arkansas and throughout the Midwest create well-crafted construction documents to develop bidding packages that outline the full scope and schedule of a project. This allows us to anticipate how much bids for specific services throughout the construction process will be in advance—eliminating surprises down the road. 

As the bidding process continues, we often match clients with various trade partners through our extensive network of highly vetted providers. Since we have decades of experience, we often know which trade partners have the skill sets you need to get your specific job done. We prequalify trade partners by looking at their general capacity, financial strength and experience. That means there’s less guessing for owners and more assurance that they’re making the right choice. 

Each project is different; therefore we don’t take the same approach every time. We choose trade partners and deliverables that will help you reach your goals, rather than generalizing our services. Our goal is to provide a highly customized experience for you and your business, and if we simply “sold you a package,” we wouldn’t be the most high-performing construction company in the Midwest.

Final takeaway: Do I need preconstruction services?

If you’re located in the Midwest, preconstruction can be the ultimate tool to maximize the success of your project. In particular, advanced preconstruction services expand the reach of traditional cost estimating, cost analysis and budgeting by bringing in other tools to determine full life-cycle costs (not just the cost to build) and promoting value above all. 

At McCownGordon, we pride ourselves on “thinking like an owner,” meaning we know how to put ourselves in your shoes. Everything we consider throughout the process keeps your goals in mind. That is exactly why we regularly meet with customers to ensure we’re always on the right path.

Regardless of project size, scope or budget, preconstruction can help you streamline your project and design a build that uses your dollar wisely. If you ever have any questions on what our preconstruction services include, you can always speak to one of our associates and we’d be more than happy to help you get started. 

Learn more about preconstruction in the Midwest at McCownGordon Construction

At McCownGordon, our team of builders and engineers maintain a customer-focused mentality, allowing us to outperform even your highest expectations. Dedicated to promoting integrity, performance and relationships, it’s our people and values that truly make the difference. 

Our customers aren’t simply another project; they’re an extension of our team and community. Together, we don’t just build—we bring creative visions to life. From first thought to final nail, we deliver quality work to ensure our builds stand above the rest. 

We have three regional offices around the Midwest—Kansas City, Manhattan and Wichita. Call us at 888-304-4929 or use our free online quote tool to start building today. 

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