Pre-Construction Planning Part 2

March 20, 2003

Identifying opportunities, or Looking under rocks

All estimates, especially those of competitively bid projects, include problems or challenges. Problems and challenges, when looked upon with a positive attitude, can become golden opportunities. These opportunities often translate into increased profit when identified and planned prior to construction.

Occasionally, opportunities are obvious. When they are less obvious, the project manager with curiosity and creativity must seek them out, as in looking under rocks. When you look under rocks, you might find nothing. You might a venomous snake ready to strike, or you might find a big diamond. A project manager who is positive, creative, curious, and persistent is likely to find opportunities. (Note that identification of opportunities is not the creation of petty change orders.)

Where does one look under rocks? What types of projects and items most lend themselves to looking under rocks? The following should be considered as ideal places for discovering opportunities:

  • Poorly designed projects with ambiguous specifications and drawings.

  • Larger projects (often provide the greatest challenges).

  • Smaller projects (often include many opportunities because of poor engineering or because they are less stringent in their requirements than larger projects).

  • Projects with multiple prime contracts (it is not uncommon for overlaps or voids to appear among the scopes of various prime contractors).

  • Specifications with many options for method, material, and equipment selection.

  • Smaller owners (are often more flexible whereas larger owners often have several buildings requiring them to standardize their equipment types and system materials).

  • Overlooked or unused equipment quotes which required a detailed evaluation and probably concerned the estimator at bid time.

  • Equipment which had not been quoted at bid time and the estimator SWAGGED.

  • Sweat valves in lieu of threaded.

  • Elimination of unnecessary expansion loops, anchors, and flexible connectors.

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