Planning in advance for medical construction projects: Why to hire a construction manager early in the process

Whether you’re building an innovative, state-of-the-art hospital or renovating a rural clinic, having a construction manager on your team can make a huge difference. And the earlier you bring one on, the better.

Making the budget work

Many people do not understand that construction managers are more than just contractors. Construction managers bring oversight and expertise to the table that typically translates into cost savings for the client. By engaging a construction manager in the process before they begin to build, most clients typically gain significant added value.

“We’re experts in cost,” said Tucker Peddicord, LEED AP, senior estimator, McCownGordon Construction. “We look at projects differently.”

The first thing most clients want to know is whether they can afford what they want, Peddicord said.

“We’re there to educate clients about cost and ensure they get what they want for the right dollars,” said Barry Schmidt, LEED AP, project manager, McCownGordon.

A construction management firm will take into account any parameters associated with the funding sources—from large, private donors to rural development grants from the USDA. It might also include funding options like bonds.

The firm will also evaluate the client’s needs and wants, and translate those into a building solution that makes sense for the client and the community over the long term.

For example, a client might want to analyze different services they could provide such as wellness centers, food services, and additional procedural services. A construction manager can help analyze the most effective way to provide space for the services through analysis on renovations of existing space as opposed to new construction.

Leading the project

Every building project encompasses a need, a vision, and a process to get from one point to the other. A client specifies the need and an architect develops the vision. A construction manager provides the missing piece—the leadership to get the project from Point A to Point B in the most efficient way possible.

“We partner with the client and the architect, and shepherd the process to make sure everyone is clear on next steps and that everything is done to budget and fulfills the needs of the client,” Schmidt said.

A construction manager takes a global view of the project, which is crucial given the complexity of healthcare construction. Specialized equipment and systems must be integrated properly. Planning must often allow for normal operations to continue without impact.

Additionally, because most facilities in line for an upgrade are often 50-plus years old, stakeholders on the client side typically aren’t familiar with the process of construction. That’s why partnering with clients and architects early in the process is so important.

“Our architect partners like it when we’re brought on to a project early,” Schmidt added. “We help them by providing a complementary perspective and ensuring a smooth project from design through construction.”

Interested in learning more? Check out our thought leadership article about the Value of Preconstruction in Healthcare. 

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