How Can a General Contractor Speed Up the Preconstruction Process? A Look inside Foundry Row

Have you ever wondered why the preconstruction process takes so long? Although no two commercial construction projects are the same, there are several common factors that affect the length of time between project concept and construction.

Using our Foundry Row project in Owings Mills, MD as an example, I will discuss three factors that affect the preconstruction process and explain how a general contractor can help the real estate developer before the shovel even hits the ground.

1. Comprehensive Schedule.

Integrating a general contractor’s site, offsite and building construction schedules into the developers overall project schedule allows for accurate planning with tenants. Since the permitting stage greatly governs the construction start schedule, an experienced general contractor will push to price trades so that subcontractors are ready to start when the permits are issued.

In addition, it is also important to involve a general contractor in any meeting that the owner / engineer may have with the State / District or County. At Foundry Row, CCG was able to save the developer time and money by meeting with the County and suggesting alternative construction methods to meet their requirements. A general contractor’s knowledge of local regulations and construction timelines can be of great benefit to a developer.

2. Pre-Construction Budgets.

Early general contractor involvement also gives developers the luxury of creating accurate site and building budgets for their pro formas. Establishing a reliable budget from the beginning helps to minimize the risk of being over-budget or behind schedule at any point during the project. General contractors are able to guide and advise the architects and consultants while construction documents are developed. This avoids costly revisions associated with integrating value engineering after the plans have been drawn.

Chesapeake Contracting Group worked with the developer at length to develop an accurate budget before the comprehensive drawings were even available for Foundry Row. This allowed CCG to work with the architect and engineers to streamline the design while they developed the construction drawings.

3. Public Utilities.

Within every project there is a need to manage the continuation of utility services during construction. An experienced general contractor has relationships with those local agencies and will coordinate the complex transition on behalf of the developer. It is important for a general contractor to be proactive and plan according to restrictions set by entities such as Verizon, BGE, Comcast and the State Highway Administration. This will avoid costly delays and integrate public with private utilities and building construction.

The Foundry Row project required the relocation of existing public utilities on Reisterstown Road. CCG helped to determine who had utilities with the help of utility locates and had meetings to coordinate the work with those companies (including those that had wiring either on the poles or in the ground).

As Frank Settleman mentioned in a previous blog post, involving a general contractor during the project concept stage can alleviate stress for real estate developers and improve their project’s overall success. While there may not be much to see on the construction site, there is certainly a lot going on behind the scenes.

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E.J. Youngling
Senior Project Manager
Chesapeake Contracting Group

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