The topic of this blog is being featured as an Industry Roundtable at the 2016 Digital Signage Convention in Las Vegas, NV.  Session IRT5, booth 3040.  #DSE2016

If you are in the construction or development industry, you’ve seen projects where the cost of construction spirals out of control.  This can lead to projects that are over budget and often run out of time due to delays. But whether you are an owner, a vendor or even a designer, there are several things you can do for keeping construction costs low.

What 3 Questions Should You Answer Before a Project?

Often the most important things you can do before a project even begins is to analyze what the actual purpose of the project is.   It sounds basic…and it is…but careful examination of this most basic question can often uncover numerous potential problems down the road.   Every single project should start out by answering the following questions:

  • Who will benefit from this project? Who is it intended to serve?
  • What are the minimum requirements (number of offices, square footage, number of seats, etc.)
  • Do existing facilities present any restrictions to new work?  Any opportunities?

Choosing the Right Consultants

Once the preplanning is done, the next critical step is choosing the right consultants for your design team.

There are two aspects to this that should be considered:

  1. The first is choosing the correct type of consultant.  This comes down to understanding the role that each can play and then selecting what you need for the particular project.  For instance, an architect can be chosen to contribute knowledge about aesthetics, interiors and overall project programming.  They can also assist with code compliance relating to issues like ADA and fire codes.  Engineers can be hired for their technical knowledge, understanding of materials, products and construction techniques.
  2. The second aspect is choosing the right qualities in those consultants that best complement your project and your style.  The technical skills of most consultants are similar, but their experience, attitude and commitment to achieving your vision are what really set them apart.  As an owner, it’s critical to find consultants that will work together within your style on a project.  This becomes a critical aspect of controlling costs, because when a consultant’s efforts don’t complement the vision of the owner, it can lead to miscommunication and skewed outcomes, both of which can lead to cost overruns.

Avoiding Problems During Construction

Finally, there are several steps that can be taken during construction that can help prevent potential problems that may have slipped through, due to unknown existing conditions or contractor error.

  1. For structural considerations, the most impactful of these is enforcing the special inspection requirements of the International Building CodeThese inspections ensure quality outcomes all the way from the fabricator and installer to the methods used to construct it. 
  2. The second way is to encourage contractors and consultants to work directly to solve issues as they arise.  Too often, construction costs are elevated by a confrontational approach between parties where each is only out to “cover themselves.”  But, the key here is a mutual respect of the purpose each serves in the process.  This forms the basis for having people who can work in this more direct manner and is critical to keeping costs from spiraling.

Everyone who has been involved in these types of projects has seen where construction costs can spiral out of control. But, there are ways to keep this from happening even before a project begins.  This can make all the difference between a project’s success and failure.

Register for DSE2016

Mike Howell, PE SE, is a structural engineer with more than a decade of experience working as both a contractor and a designer. Spots are still available to participate in this roundtable discussion at DSE2016.



Register for DSE2016 here to secure your spot!


See you in Vegas!


Allegheny Design Services

Allegheny Design Services (ADS), established in 2002, specializes in many different areas of structural and MEP engineering.  We provide reliable, responsible services of building system design and analysis. We are the link between owners, architects, and contractors and help the architect realize their vision while providing simple, buildable solutions to the contractor. We pride ourselves in offering timely solutions to complicated engineering issues, whether structural, mechanical, electrical, or plumbing in nature.

Sports and recreation ventures are a special type of project within our industry. These projects must ultimately be focused on improving fan experience and the needs of the end user, which can lead to unique challenges for the design team.

To learn more about our Sports & Rec division, click HERE.


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