Many times in my career, I have fielded questions like these:
“How much does it cost per square foot to build these days?”
“Is it cheaper to go up?”
“What is the least expensive type of building to build?”
“Can you give me a round number on the phone?”
While, on the surface, these may sound like legitimate questions, it’s a little like calling your doctor to ask if your cholesterol is high. The best he can do is ask a few questions and then say, “Maybe.” The truth is he will need more information to give an answer you can depend on. You know, to help you start your new diet. Lol..
The “Value” question, however, is a good question, and I want to give you three steps that will ensure you get the best value from your Building Project Design. These proven steps will help you make the right decisions upfront and give you a great handle on your Budget from the beginning to the end of your project.
Whether you are building new space, changing existing space, or adding to your space, these steps can help.
Step 1 – Define Value
The first step is to decide what is valuable to you, or maybe, what is most valuable.
Is money the most valuable thing? Or is it quality, space, or time? For example, if you can only spend “X” dollars, then money is the most valuable thing. Quality, space, and time will need to be ranked below money. You may need to settle for less space and wait for the guy who owns one truck to build your building. You know him. Your lumber is in the back of his truck, and your invoice is on his dash.
- If space is king, say you must have “Y” square feet, then money, quality, and time should be raked below space. You get the picture, I’m sure.
While this may seem too simple to consider, it is the most basic and sensible starting place even before Design Concepts are created. It will keep you from designing twice.
Step 2 – Assemble a Team
The greatest opportunity for saving money is in the beginning. To be specific, the very beginning, before any concepts or drawings are done.
Here’s a tip: The smartest, most informed people are the ones who do it every day. They break the ground, order the steel, pull the wires, and keep it cool. They know what works best and efficiently, and most of all, they know what it cost. A team of these folks will bring a brilliant “common sense” approach to your project. Combine these people with talented Design Professionals, and you have a clear path to a winning project. This is how the best ideas are created.
A good contractor with Design-Build experience, like JH Batten, can build a budget while drawings are still sketches, and ideas are still primitive. The Budget can become your tool to guide the team as Designs and choices are made. Value is in the group. With everyone on the same page and heading in the same direction, surprises are rare, and your vision is realized much faster and with much more control.
Step 3 – Require Benchmark Checks
This is a critical step in maintaining control of your project. Benchmarks should be established in the beginning. These are times to stop, measure, count, and discuss. This is where you are informed, and the team is held accountable. If adjustments are needed, the team is there to propose and create solutions.
There is tremendous value in correcting the course of the ship along the way. To arrive at the wrong place and turn this big ship around is costly in many ways.
When we are doing Design-Build or managing a Team Build approach at JH Batten, we like to have at least three and sometimes four of these “Benchmark” breaks. We do an estimate at these stops to see how things are lining up with the Budget. This is excellent information for you to have.
At times you may be captivated by a design. That is easy to do. You may be in love with a new flashy element or space, but it could be the thing that rings the Budget bell. Of course, you are the boss, and this is your decision, but we believe you need all the facts to make the right choice. You should know that the new “Flash” is there and what it cost before more money is spent designing the details of that “Flash.”
Sometimes it is not “Flash,” but something that was uncovered as the Design Process matured, something unable to be seen before. This allows you to be aware of when that happens and how it affected your Budget. By having this knowledge now, you can decide what to do and not leave that decision to others. You can adjust your Budget up or delete another scope to keep it where you want it. The keys are in your hands. A good team will furnish those keys for you.
By having Benchmark Checks in place, you will be in much better control of the Design Process and can be assured you are getting value in your Design.
These steps may seem like simple things, but they are not always simple to do. You may need help putting these steps into place and managing them. Find someone who is experienced with this process and put them on your team, perhaps even leading it.
At JH Batten, we do almost everything this way.
So, if you need us, remember, For Us, It’s Personal.