5 Strategies to Streamline Construction

07 December, 2022

When it comes to construction for land development projects, there are a variety of factors that could result in snags and delays. The good news is that developers can take action to mitigate construction delays before a project is even designed. The biggest key to staying on track? Thorough site civil due diligence.

At Bohler, we design with constructability in mind, which streamlines the bidding and construction process. Sometimes, slowdowns in the field are inescapable, but effective due diligence raises awareness of potential construction challenges and can help to minimize delays.

Actionable Tips to Streamline Construction

While some uncertainty below ground is inevitable, most challenges either result from unknown existing utilities or different soils than shown in the geotechnical report.

Here are five actionable tips for mitigating snags once shovels hit the ground based on my experience managing site civil engineering design projects over the past 24 years.

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1. Utility Profiling

Between landscaping, water, sanitary utilities, stormwater materials, fiber, gas, electricity, and more, there’s a lot to consider for designers. I recommend involving a utility specialist to examine the existing utilities on the site. They can get access to up-to-date plans from electric and fiber companies, which tend to be more reliable and provide a clear picture of where utilities are located on the site. Underground fiber cables are particularly important to locate before construction begins, because they are hard to find and expensive to fix.

Utility profiling helps identify depths and intersections of underground utilities, which helps ensure that there are no conflicts with crossings and objects are far enough apart. This is a critical step that helps avoid time-consuming change orders or the need to modify plans on-site.

SEE RELATED: Moving the Project Forward Through Creative Utility Design

2. Geotechnical Due Diligence Early On

Geotechnical due diligence is also important early in the process to provide clarity for other obstacles like groundwater, buried objects, rocks, and more. While it may seem expensive, it can help avoid delays and costly adjustments once construction begins. It also helps inform projected costs based on conceptual grading plans, soil considerations, and earthwork – which can all affect design.

3. Quality Documentation

Construction documents that are detailed yet easy to understand provide peace of mind for contractors and owners. Buried utilities and other obstacles are presented in multiple ways, allowing for clarity. Contractors are therefore able to consider constructability before they begin, consult plans at any time, and project more accurate costs and timelines. Quality construction documents also typically mean contractors don’t need to ask as many questions and submit fewer requests for information (RFIs) or change orders.

For the projects that Bohler’s involved in, quality documents lead the way: clear, legible, well-though-out designs mean that there’s less room for error.

4. In-Person, On-Site Kickoff Meetings

With the clearest possible directions, contractors’ jobs should go a lot smoother. Kickoff meetings with contractors that are in person and on site are important so that the site civil engineer can go through the construction documents before construction begins. Contractors can get all their questions answered and the entire team can head into the construction phase with confidence.

My colleague Ben Plumb, Project Manager in New York, said, “It’s much better to have these discussions during the kickoff meetings, rather than halfway through construction, when not having information may be detrimental to making quick progress.”

SEE RELATED: Unlock Unrealized Opportunity – Your GC May Hold the Key

5. In-Depth Local Knowledge

Having extensive knowledge and understanding about your jurisdiction’s process can play a critical role in streamlining construction and permits. Additionally, having trusted local relationships – such as with building inspectors, engineering departments, local municipalities and counties, and public transport – especially in some of the harder-to-develop areas in the country, means we can rely on local expertise.

At Bohler, we can help ensure we have what the client needs and what the jurisdiction needs through our network of experts in specific industries from various offices.

SEE RELATED: Maintaining Momentum through Permitting and Entitlements

Resolving Difficulties Quickly

Despite all of these efforts to minimize obstacles and streamline construction, unforeseen delays are still sometimes inevitable. But your approach when these things come up matters. Here’s how I recommend to quickly resolve issues:

  • Evaluate timelines to see if redesigning can avoid the area.
  • Try to reuse as many structures as possible.
  • Implement what is already on site.
  • Plan to minimize impact on the contract when ordering new materials.
  • Form a unified approach with the contractor.

If the site civil engineering consultant can form a unified approach to challenges with the contractor, owners and developers can rest assured that the proposed solution is the best one.

My team has found success in using these strategies to minimize interruptions and keep projects moving forward through construction in the fastest way possible.

Read more in this article from REBusinessOnline.

About Keith Simpson, PE
Keith Simpson Herndon Associate

Keith is an Associate and Director of Engineering for Bohler’s Mid-Atlantic division. In this role, he works closely with project managers and site civil design teams across Bohler’s footprint to reinforce standard operating procedures that ensure efficiency, quality, and consistency in our communication and site plan deliverables. In addition, Keith leads Bohler’s Quality Assurance/Quality Control team, which is focused on developing design solutions that improve the constructability of Bohler’s projects and streamline overall timelines.

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