Pre-Construction: The Foundation for Construction Success
What was once considered a team focused primarily on estimation has become so much more in just the last five years – it’s evolved into a group of innovative problem-solvers necessary for the success of nearly every project.
- LocationCircleville, OH
- Square Footage1,608,665 s.f.
- Operational24 months
Gray’s Pre-Construction team brings concepts into reality, while focusing heavily on mitigating or neutralizing project risk along the way. According to our President of Pre-Construction Services David Florence, the Pre-Construction team “works from a concept level–an idea, workflow, process–and builds that into tangible form.” These phases, which lead into construction and project management, are a vital component of the success of our projects, and overall, our company.
Understanding the Challenge
If a customer is trying to build a widget, how does that widget come to life? This is where Pre-Construction is essential.
“We’re there to manage risk,” says Director of Pre-Construction Services Nick Walter. “We take very little information, and we have to put a number to it. We have to fill in the gaps in the information we’re provided and manage the overall risk of the project.”
This team sees a problem and develops a solution, while working with partners in the Gray family of brands to utilize the services they provide. Together, they are a group who looks at problems as opportunities. “Because we are focused on the end result and able to manage the process, we provide a more holistic approach to Pre-Construction,” Florence explained.
From site analysis and estimation to scheduling, awarding subcontractors, and process flow, no two projects for this team look the same. The group prides itself on being open and willing to say “yes” to new opportunities as they are presented.
“Our goal is to get the projects off to a good start. We want to do everything possible to set the projects up for success,” says Jamie Pedigo, Director of Pre-Construction Services.
For some customers, building a new facility is a familiar process, but for others, the entire activity is something completely new. Whatever the situation, our Pre-Construction team is available to listen to questions and provide answers. The experience of this team allows Gray to provide guidance as customers make various decisions about the project, as well as to help set goals to ensure completion.
Florence continued, “We set the milestones, set the cost expectations, develop a roadmap and do all that we can to ensure that as the project goes through execution on rhythm, hitting a cadence and milestones.”
Pre-Construction is critical to ensure we maintain strong relationships with customers. It demonstrates our No. 2 Core Value, being customer and relationship driven. Since this team is one of the first touchpoints for our customers, Pre-Construction is truly the foundation of a project. “We work together with our customers to bring their project to fruition prior to construction,” says Florence, “ensuring their needs and wants are prioritized in the process.”
Altogether, the entire team is committed to customer relationships. This allows them to become an extension of the customer’s team, which makes the owner feel more comfortable leveraging our resources throughout the project. As one, it’s a homogenous team working effectively and purposely for a positive solution.
Leading with Technology
“We have seen that we have to grow in technology, so we’ve put a big investment into a technology platform. It’s not to change our culture, it’s to adapt it to our culture,” says Florence.
As the industry continues to grow more technologically advanced and big data becomes more involved in the daily process, Pre-Construction utilizes any and all new tools at its disposal to better serve the organization and customers.
The group, which once required hand and paper for most tasks, is now utilizing software to handle the calculations. From figuring numbers like price-per-square foot to calculating the inflation costs for certain types of facilities, new programs allow the Pre-Construction department to process information quicker and with greater accuracy.
“We have implemented a software that allows us to do conceptual estimates,” says Allison Lewis, Business Analyst. “With this new program we’re able to take several different projects, combine them, come out with some averages, and quickly be able to get a pulse on what kind of price exists.”
Thanks to the updated programs and software, customers can see insights into costs for their facility based on Gray’s experience.
“With this tool, we can model four past projects and give the customer an idea of what a project is going to cost,” says Florence, “We can have the information available in eight hours, where before that could take a week or more.”
“The software allows us to go in and pull up projects to determine what the cost-per-square foot should be for this type of facility in this type of trade, so the customer has a better idea for their facility,” Pedigo adds.
This data and information aren’t just helping on the front-end of projects. Thanks to the new, connected technology, different departments from Pre-Construction to the project management team and even all the way to the site and execution teams are utilizing and accessing the same set of data for the project. When one part of the organization makes a change or update, it’s immediately available to anyone else working on the project. This continuous, instantaneous communication between the departments eliminates lag and reduces lost time, adding to efficiency.
“It’s an assembly line,” says Florence. “It just makes the process more productive.”
Pre-Construction’s impact on a project goes far beyond the initial process. The relationships they build and cultivate, and the front-end work the department does, really is the foundation that sets the stage for success on Gray’s projects.
“We’re building trust with the customer up front to create a clear understanding of what we’re providing,” says Walter. “Building that trust is essential for the success of the project throughout the various stages.”