Undertaking Fast-Tracked Construction Projects

Published May 4, 2015 by Whirlwind Team

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Everyone wants to be a hero, but not at the expense of your company's reputation and brand. Successfully completing a fast track construction project is a great way to gain new clients, develop your reputation as a reliable builder and expand your company's target market. However, fast-tracked projects are risky. One slip-up on your part - or a vendor's part - can jeopardize the project's success.

Therefore, undertaking a fast-tracked construction project requires a special degree of organization, communication and planning to ensure your company can pull it off on-time and produce the high-quality finished product your client expects.

How To Be a Fast-Track Construction Hero

The rapid innovation of digital technology has unarguably created an "I want it now!" society. Unfortunately for those of us in construction, this same attitude has trickled down to the more conventional plane where physics still plays a role. As a result, some industry associations report that as much as 40% of construction projects are considered "fast-tracked" due to the timelines expected by eager and impatient clients. This poses a challenge for an industry that requires a certain amount of time for fundamental things to take place, such as a curing a foundation or waiting for the last of the coats of paint to dry, not to mention the incredible amount of choreography that must transpire between subcontractors, vendors and suppliers.

While some things simply can't be rushed, others can, and the following steps can make your company more confident about bidding, accepting and completing fast-tracked construction projects you may not have sought out otherwise. You never know; you might just become a fast-track construction hero.

  1. Meet with building owners for a transparent exchange of ideas. There are certain things that will need to happen earlier or more quickly than experienced developers and building owners are used to. For example, reports and surveys pertaining to geotechnical, traffic, land surveying, wetland, and cultural resource investigation must be available to engineers, builders and so on as early as possible so as not to delay the design and approval processes. Owners should know that the early commencement and release of this baseline work will go a long way towards expediting project milestone deadlines and overall construction schedules. Delays can result in lost weeks or even months, depending on the scenario.
  2. Learn to layer your process. Typically, a conventional construction process moves forward in very distinct phases, with at least a little space or time between each one. These include things like initial planning meetings, design and client approval, governmental approvals, bidding and negotiation, contract award, construction, and, finally, completion. In a fast tracked project, some of these phases, especially during the initial planning phases, will experience quite a bit of overlap. Therefore, project managers must learn to be comfortable juggling multiple balls at one time, rather than waiting for each of them to clear the hoop before attempting the next shot across the court.
  3. Talk up the benefits of pre-engineered buildings. Pre-engineered buildings are the no-brainer option for fast-tracked buildings. Consider that an experienced construction team can build a pre-engineered steel and metal building in half the time it takes to build a conventional counterpart and it's easy to see why prefabrication pays off. The problem is that many building owners can be stuck on the idea of custom building designs. The good news is that customized modifications are completely within the realm of possibility, even with pre-engineered buildings, as long as they are introduced early on in the project. The fact that the building's components will be largely fabricated off-site, in a controlled environment, will yield the customized building clients want in a fraction of the time it would take to design and build it otherwise.
  4. Establish relationships with local, state and federal agencies. Are you the type who tries to keep things "quick-and-to-the-point" when it comes to government building officials and other entities? This might be a time to slow down and cultivate some relationships. The more you have an "in" with the individuals responsible for permits, zone approvals, formal submittals and special allowances for standard regulations, the easier it will be to fast-track a project down the road.
  5. Protect yourself from financial risk. If you haven't worked on a fast track construction in the past, work with your legal personnel to create a contract that provides you with financial protection. Your client will expect some type of guaranteed maximum price (GMP), which they feel is inflexible. However, fast tracking means there are financial unknowns that will crop up along the way and you must be prepared for these. Write contracts that accommodate any deviations from the drawings and specifications, as well as unforeseen occurrences and unbudgeted changes in conditions.

Contact Whirlwind to begin designing a prefabricated building for your upcoming fast-tracked construction project.

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