In this video, we spotlight a group of construction professionals that often don’t get the credit they deserve: the preconstruction team.
Preconstruction professionals, from the BIM/VDC manager to the estimator, are a construction firm’s first line of defense in deciding whether a project will succeed. Since the construction industry runs on such tight margins, there is little to no cushion to absorb unforeseen costs when something goes wrong. That means the risks you avoid with thorough preconstruction planning (such as cost overruns, rework, and schedule delays) will determine whether or not you make money.
Learn more about the crucial role these preconstruction professionals play – along with how technology is helping them do their jobs more effectively than ever before – in the video below.
When most people think of construction, they imagine hardhats, high vis, and workers getting their hands dirty on big, noisy sites. While the work that those men and women do on the ground is obviously essential to any build, there's one team behind the scenes that rarely gets the credit they deserve. They are responsible for all the planning and coordination that lays the foundations for a successful project. Without them, many of the incredible schemes that we're seeing completed today wouldn't have been possible. Quite simply, they are the unsung heroes of construction.
From small, simple builds, to the world's biggest and most celebrated megaprojects, detailed planning and preparation has been arguably the most important part of the construction process for centuries. This is even truer today, with the complexity of projects continuing to grow, and new technologies coming to the fore that bring numerous benefits but require deeper levels of knowledge and understanding to unlock their full potential. All activities that must be completed before a project breaks ground, come under a process known as pre-construction. And it is here that some of the most critical work is done.
While a preconstruction team can be extensive, made up of many roles, all of them important to the final outcome, there are three in particular that have become paramount to the modern project.
The first is a relatively new, but increasingly vital role that proves how technology has become such an integral part of the construction process. It's called the BIM Manager, or BIM Coordinator. This usually refers to the individual in charge of implementing and managing the building information modeling, or BIM procedure of a project. All the way from design to handover, BIM is where intelligent 3D models of a physical asset are created to more efficiently plan, design, construct, and manage buildings and infrastructure. As the adoption of BIM has increased, and projects have become more reliant on 3D models, the role of the BIM Manager has gained greater significance in recent years.
Next up is the estimator, or cost planner who has the challenging task of working out how much would need to be spent on a planned project. This involves identifying the client's expectations to see what's required, before calculating the costs that would be involved. Estimators are in charge of pricing up materials, equipment, and labor, organizing quotes and bids from suppliers and subcontractors, and making sure that a build stays on budget throughout the various stages. The role of the estimator is crucial to ensuring a project falls within a client's budget before, and also during construction. With costs often a major deciding factor when a client picks a contractor, the estimator can be the difference between a company winning and losing a project.
Finally, there's the risk manager who has responsibility for identifying, evaluating, and mitigating the many different risks that a project can be subjected to. These can range from financial and safety, to environmental and reputational risks, which can all be equally damaging if not properly addressed. They are tasked with creating a risk aware culture across the workforce, liaising with project managers, health and safety teams, legal personnel, and more to ensure that a risk register is formed and closely adhere to.
Projects becoming more complex often leads to more uncertainty, and therefore more risk. And risk management is now an essential requirement of many larger builds, which is why this particular role is now growing in importance. Preconstruction has always been a key part of any successful project, but now that technology is progressing so rapidly. These duties are having to change and adapt accordingly. As BIM and the software that enables it is constantly evolving, BIM Managers have to keep refreshing their knowledge and understanding of the latest tech advancements, ensuring their collaborators are up to speed too.
Technology is making a difference with estimators and risk managers as well, helping to increase the efficiency of these wide-ranging roles. Modern digital platforms are streamlining the way these professionals work, allowing them to find subcontractors with ease, and mitigate risk faster with automated recommendations and analysis. They may not have had the recognition they're due, but as more people are inspired to join this incredible industry, and with preconstruction the driving force of so many projects, perhaps soon, these roles will no longer go unnoticed.