Pre-Construction Planning Part 3

March 20, 2003

M-E-P (Mechanical, Electrical, and Plumbing) Coordination

Sometimes the engineer does not give enough thought to how all the ductwork, piping, conduit, etc. are going to fit in the space given. When construction begins, it at first appears easiest for all contractors to simply go about their own business and begin installing their own work without much regard to the work of other contractors. As time passes and more contractors arrive on the site, some may begin to realize that their work will not fit into the space that remains after other contractors have installed their materials.

When a contractor finds that the space they needed to install their materials has been taken up by another sub, the contractor is left with the following possible actions:

  • Halt work, have your crew find something to do for awhile, and call the prior contractor.

  • Use additional materials (pipe, fittings, duct) to reroute your work around the work already installed.

  • Pull workers off of the project and send them to another project to keep them working until the conflict is resolved.

  • Have your workers forcefully and without regard remove the prior work and install their work.

All of the above actions are unacceptable because they all have a negative impact on the bottom line--all of the above actions cost your company money in reduced crew productivity. In addition, the final option will likely cause much larger problems than you faced before. The above scenario can easily be avoided with proper pre-construction planning for coordination.

As there is generally no formal coordination among trades on a project, and the various foremen on a job site are wasting their valuable time coordinating as they go or reworking their installed work to accommodate the work of another trade, it is paramount that coordination among the M-E-P trades be planned.

The proactive P-H-C project manager takes charge to make sure that the project is properly coordinated prior to the start of construction. Most general contractors will gladly allow you to spearhead the M-E-P coordination efforts as they are not usually comfortable with the M-E-P drawings and work requirements.

Formal coordination of routing and space usage should occur on all projects regardless of size. No project is too small for formal coordination planning. The degree of coordination planning required will greatly depend upon the complexity and size of the project.

Although proper M-E-P coordination is a time-consuming process, it usually translates to a major return on investment for the P-H-C contractor. Why? What are the benefits of pre-construction planning for coordination?
  • Fewer fittings used

  • Reduced footage of pipe, ductwork, and conduit

  • Increased productivity

  • Eliminates work stoppage and quarreling

  • Improves job site relations among trades

  • Eliminates/reduces rework and rerouting

The above items create increased profitability. A good pre-construction planning coordination process can be carried out by conducting regularly scheduled coordination meetings.

In addition, the following are critical:
  • All meeting minutes are distributed to all affected parties whether in attendance or not.

  • All contractors involved with constructing the project should be invited to attend and participate. Those who do not attend should be clearly informed of the consequences of not attending.

  • For the pre-construction planning process to be successful, the owner or general contractor, whichever is applicable, must be fully committed to the coordination meetings and procedures.

  • The owner or general contractor must inform all contractors of the importance of coordinating the project and must warn all contractors that anyone who does not choose to participate (1) will be responsible for any and all costs associated with other contractors’ work which conflicts with theirs, and (2) only those participating contractors will receive first choice at using available spaces.

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