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AMHigley Builders Blog: Navigating the Preconstruction Process - From Concept to Guaranteed Maximum Price


AMHIGLEY BUILDERS BLOG- AMHigley employees give their technical expertise and insights on the construction industry.

This month’s blog featuring TJ Pasadyn breaks down the preconstruction process, from concept to Guaranteed Maximum Price. He points out how a collaborative and robust process is the best way to ensure that a project is successful throughout construction.

 TJ Pasadyn | Senior Preconstruction Manager | 5 Years with AMHigley

Setting the stage for a successful project is the preconstruction phase. This crucial phase involves planning, coordination, and decision-making to ensure that the project moves forward smoothly and efficiently. Central to this process is reaching the Guaranteed Maximum Price (GMP), a final milestone that provides certainty to both clients and stakeholders.

The preconstruction process is so important to the overall project because it will provide the owner and the design team information to aid in their decision-making process. The more a preconstruction team understands construction systems the more value they can provide when comparing structure types, finish/fittings, or MEP Systems. A robust preconstruction team with an array of experiences in the construction industry allows their work to be credible and get to the GMP efficiently.

The best way to approach this process is to have it be as collaborative of a process as possible. Whether it is with the owner and the design team or inner office between departments. If the preconstruction team is not collaborating, then they are not communicating and if they are not communicating things get lost in the shuffle.

The sooner the construction manager is brought into the design process, the better. With early input from the preconstruction department to both the Owner and Design team, the project can take shape faster. Looking at the Owner, Architect and Contractor as a 3-legged stool, if one is falling short the stool cannot be stable.

While no construction projects are the same, each having its own uniqueness that present opportunities and challenges, the preconstruction process follows this basic outline for each project.

  • Concept – The teams need an understanding the overall scope of the project, size, basic program and a moderate understanding of systems.  
  • Schematic Design – This level of design includes scalable floor plans, basic structural and architectural layouts, and a complete narrative of Civil and MEP systems.
  • Design Development – With more developed floor plans, elevations & sections, locations of MEP systems, site layout and orientations, are now on each drawing for the project.  
  • Construction Documents – The preconstruction team continues to refine the pricing and update market pricing for specific design components to capture the last of the details that will be part of the GMP documents.
  • GMP – Verifying the scope has stayed consistent from the last estimate. Identifying changes and reviewing contractor scopes of work for completeness.

The largest aspect of the preconstruction process when it comes to the project design is estimate tracking with the development of the drawings. The team will build the job in the estimate before the project documents are complete so at every phase of the process. The team can reconcile the estimate with the owner and architect to make sure the correct scope is captured, that there is realistic unit pricing on the work, and that there is a proper snapshot of the budget for the owner to make decisions.

As the project approaches the GMP phase, overall budget or schedule is usually the largest concern. This can result in a project having multiple GMP’s. One of the aspects in having multiple GMPs, is it allows for early procurement and early bid packages to push projects to the starting line. In an era where it is harder to get projects to commence, the multiple GMP aspect gets the project moving.

Lack of communication throughout the preconstruction process can be the largest hinderance to the project timeline. Whether external or internal, communication problems can create a scenario where changes and details could be overlooked. Details which could have a larger impact on the overall budget if not addressed. This is again why a collaborative approach between the client, design teams and construction manager can truly help the process for a smooth transition into construction.

The preconstruction phase is a critical stage in the project lifecycle, setting the foundation for successful project delivery. By diligently navigating the preconstruction process and effectively reaching the GMP, stakeholders can ensure project viability, mitigate risks, and achieve client satisfaction. Collaboration, communication, and attention to detail are key principles that drive success in preconstruction, ultimately leading to the realization of a client’s dream.